Month: October 2012

Poems of Werewolves and Longing (The Beast of Backbiting); Reading Clarissa, My Drawings of Her–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–December 1992, Part 3

Poems of Werewolves and Longing

On the 20th, during Christmas Break, I wrote in my diary,

I’m starting to wonder if I am in love with Shawn now.  I remember telling him, on only the Monday before the Tuesday he almost took what wasn’t his [my virginity], over the phone that ‘I know I’m not in love with you.’  But I think that, even then, I was starting to wonder….

I thought–remember this?–that I only thought of Shawn as a friend at summer’s end.  I badly wanted Peter to reform and return to me.  But, as soon as I got back to school, I didn’t want [what I erroneously thought was a word from God that he would] to come true, at least not very much, and Pearl called me ‘obsessed’ with Shawn.

I go up and down with him, all smiling and teasing with him one day, and irate at him for something the next [one of his many criticisms, blowing me off, snapping at me, that sort of thing].  Sometimes, especially in the past couple of weeks, it changes in the same hour….

I want to tell him, Forget about [your ex-girlfriend], as much as you can–I’m here.  What’s wrong with me?  Maybe the real problem is, he doesn’t know me well enough yet, or his mind’s been filled by too many negative things from those people that judge me so harshly.

I feel so hurt when he does something that hurts me, like Tuesday night almost three weeks ago, or his constant criticisms.  You’re never hurt so much as by the ones you love.  I don’t use that word lightly, ‘love,’ and I never have….

I keep wishing Shawn would return this, and it depressed me when he says he doesn’t….

I hope that love will grow out of friendship, now that Shawn and I have agreed to start learning about who each other is.  I’ve confided things in Shawn that I’ve never told anyone else but God.  Such trust, to tell him such a thing.

(I did not say “I love you” lightly, differentiating it from infatuation.)

For days after our conversation, I kept crying or feeling cranky.  And no, it was not my period: I was depressed about Shawn.

But on the 29th, I wrote a poem about a werewolf, the beast of character assassination.  I eventually used it in Advanced Poetry.

It shocked people; it drew praise.  Julie said she didn’t expect such a poem from me.  It was published in a new, campus literary magazine called Farrago.  I don’t remember if Shawn saw it.

This is the poem:

“The Beast of Backbiting”

They’re a werewolf.
Each lie’s a tooth
in a long mouth full.
Long fur of self-righteousness,
shadow-black.
Pointed ears prick at the agreement
of others of its kind.
Watchful, red eyes.
Help me, help me,
it careers after me!
It roars, cracking the air–
Foul, hot breath of judgments.
You have the gun;
I grab your sleeve.
Shoot it!  Kill it!

Once it had you,
tearing with dagger-claws,
ripping for your heart,
to make you one of them.
I shot the gun,
scared it away.
I tended your wounds,
plucked out a broken claw,
an implant of perceptions.
Your hand flew up from pain,
knocking the claw to my chest,
scratching me, though no blood drawn.

Now shoot a silver bullet of truth–
The werewolf falls,
eyes fixed, in death, in surprise.
But it rises again,
snarls, fangs bared,
saliva oozing.
Its pride is hurt.
You shoot again, hit the shoulder.
The beast rages, lunges.
You shoot once more, hit the heart.
With a pitiful whimper and a gush of blood,
the beast dies.

I wasn’t the only one affected by rumors.  Once, a teacher told his class to beat the stress of finals week by starting a rumor.  They would see how far it got by noon.  So one of his students did just that.  I don’t know what the rumor was, but by lunchtime, it was all around the school.

I wrote another poem, a rant about the different meanings behind our actions.  How I did not regret what we did, how my motives were love while Shawn’s were cold and lustful.  The title came from Jane Austen’s juvenilia.  The poem was full of longing.  And no, this one did not get workshopped in Poetry class:

“Love and Freindship (sic)”

What shall I say?
That I regret?
What shall I do?
Mourn innocence lost?
Then I lie!
Longing fills like never before
(or maybe once).
Lust, but for kisses and caresses.
Tho’ a half-emerged wish for more.
No sin here,
but almost.
I’m virtuous?  I’m pure?
Maybe, but what are you?
Same hour, same acts
(tho’ none a sin)!
Float through the moat of motive:
One kiss–
I feel love;
What do you?
One caress–
I feel hope;
Where lies your heart?
Tho’ your heart’s cold, mine stays warm;
One desire–
Yours from below;
Mine from the heart.
I float, I float,
here in these cold waves,
wondering, wishing–
Will he yet be truly mine?

On the 31st, I copied a quote from Héloïse of Abelard and Héloïse: “I ought to groan at the sins which I have perpetrated yet I sigh for those which I am unable to commit.”  I wrote, “That’s how I feel, though I don’t know if I have sinned.  And not only do I long for Shawn to touch me in places that maybe should be forbidden, I wish I could do other things.”

I had felt the same way a month earlier.  (There were things we had not yet done, but did later.)  I copied another quote from Héloïse which reminded me of what I tried to get Shawn to understand: “The sensual delights which we enjoyed together were so dear to me that I cannot help loving the memory of them and am quite unable to erase them from my mind.”

(I have translated a racy passage of the letters of Abelard and Héloïse, here.)

****

Over break, I’d listen to dance music of various kinds on B96, especially late at night: mixes that went on for quite some time and got especially intense without words, techno, house.  I wrote on the 23rd,

This dance music seems to express, in its technological style, my deep feelings–love, resentment, fear, strength, resistance, resolve, anger–all in one, all at once.  Maybe that’s why I like it so much now.  Maybe that’s also why sometimes I have to turn it of and turn on something tamer–when it overwhelms me.

An hour later I wrote,

I don’t want people to think my beauty is artificial–a perm or painted face; I want them to say, ‘She’s beautiful, inside and out.’  Peter’s mom, remember, told me that I’m one of those girls who just don’t need makeup.

So why couldn’t Shawn see that?

Hmmm….On Christmas Eve, I wrote that I saw a skit on In Living Color that included a wedgie, and “it reminds me of Shawn trying to do the same to me.”  What?

I was glad to see the end of 1992.  I hoped that 1993 would be better.

Reading Clarissa; My Drawings of Her

In my diary and letters from this time, I gushed over the book Clarissa by Samuel Richardson, which I found in the Roanoke library.  I read some of it while sick with the flu, since I had nothing else to do.  Over Christmas Break, I had no homework and nothing else pressing (except lunch dishes).

This was a wonderful, wonderful book; since my massive version (1200 pages) was abridged, I didn’t yet know that there were even more wonderful parts to it which would explain parts of the plot even more.  I read 100 pages a day–which for me is a tremendous amount, since normally I probably would have gotten through 50 at the most, even reading all day long–and finished on New Year’s Eve.

I loved the Gothic feel of many scenes, such as Lovelace showing up in Clarissa’s hotel as a gouty old man.  I’m not sure if it’s called pre-Gothic or Gothic; it’s been described both ways.  On Masterpiece Theatre, which showed the movie version in the spring of 1992, it was called a Gothic.  It came out before the supernatural tales of the 18th and 19th centuries, but had the traditional elements of a Gothic: A young, virtuous virgin is abused and locked up by a dirty, usually old, man.

Richardson’s book Pamela, an earlier work, had a similar theme, except that the dirty man was young and handsome, and eventually “reformed.”  In Clarissa, the man was young and handsome, but did not reform.

The book was far more intense and intricate than the movie could possibly have depicted, with a remarkable understanding of psychology and the thoughts/motives of each character.

I laughed when Clarissa’s coffin arrived and she had it dragged up the stairs to her room.  She shocked everyone in the hotel, who said, how could she bring her coffin into her room?  She said, how could they be so surprised, since it was just a box to hold her earthly body?  She expected to die and go to Heaven, where everything would be beautiful and peaceful.

Two songs became associated in my mind with Clarissa.  The first was “Unchain” by Whiteheart, on a CD I got for Christmas.  I listened to it over and over during Christmas Break, and the beautiful melody seemed to fit somehow as I read.  Maybe it was the plea for God to “release my soul” and to “unchain.”  After all, Clarissa kept pleading for Lovelace to release her, and no longer keep her a prisoner in the brothel where he had taken her.

The second song was “Ordinary World” by Duran Duran, a song which came out over Christmas Break and was played over and over as I listened to the radio while reading.  I also taped it.  The melancholy music and lyrics fit Clarissa well.  The song may have been about a breakup, but Clarissa’s sadness was due to the rape, betrayal and abuse from someone who said he loved her.  When she died, all the pathos made my eyes mist and my nose tickle.

I drew pictures of the characters, to help me visualize them and their period clothing, since characters are often a blur of emotion and action as I read.  They rarely take on a concrete appearance unless I can look at a picture.  This may be because of NVLD.

I based the first picture of Clarissa on a plate in the “Fashion and Clothing” article from our 1960s Collier’s encyclopedias.  This was my masterpiece.  I somehow got her haircolor mixed up: I thought she was a brunette and her friend Anna a blonde, though it was the other way around.

But Clarissa’s features–based on beautiful British actresses I’d seen over the years–were lovely enough to fit her description.  I tried to draw Lovelace, but I preferred the one in the movie, Sean Bean.  I’ve never been good at drawing men, who end up looking effeminate.

I admired Clarissa, the paragon of virtue, and the ending brought me close to tears.  I admired her as my ideal, but did not act like her when Shawn got me alone.  Maybe I connected with her on a subconscious level, since I knew what it was like to be lied to, lied about, and emotionally abused by men, though I did not yet know just how bad it could get (Phil, a year and a half later).

I had no clue why this happened.  I suppose the natural gullibility caused by NVLD, and the ostracism I’d often experienced throughout my schooling for no reason I could see, made me an easy target.  Boyfriends were never easy to find, especially when my faith said they had to be Christians–and even the Christians could be jerks.

I wanted to stop the abuse, but had no idea how.  I couldn’t control Peter’s actions, and still hoped Shawn would stop criticizing me and fall in love with me.

Here are two of my best “Clarissa” pictures.  The bottom one was drawn in 1997.  When I showed the first one to my friend Becky in South Bend, she grabbed it with an “Ooh!”:

Clarissa

Clarissa2

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:

Werewolf: The Beast of Backbiting

I wrote this after learning from Shawn that many of his views of me were based on what other, unnamed people were saying about me, things that were not true.  I will be posting this in the next installment of my college memoirs.  It surprised my fellow Poetry classmates, and the editors of the campus literary magazine expressly asked for it:

They’re a werewolf.
Each lie’s a tooth
in a long mouth full.
Long fur of self-righteousness,
shadow-black.
Pointed ears prick at the agreement
of others of its kind.
Watchful, red eyes.
Help me, help me,
it careers after me!
It roars, cracking the air–
Foul, hot breath of judgments.
You have the gun;
I grab your sleeve.
Shoot it!  Kill it!

Once it had you,
tearing with dagger-claws,
ripping for your heart,
to make you one of them.
I shot the gun,
scared it away.
I tended your wounds,
plucked out a broken claw,
an implant of perceptions.
Your hand flew up from pain,
knocking the claw to my chest,
scratching me, though no blood drawn.

Now shoot a silver bullet of truth–
The werewolf falls,
eyes fixed, in death, in surprise.
But it rises again,
snarls, fangs bared,
saliva oozing.
Its pride is hurt.
You shoot again, hit the shoulder.
The beast rages, lunges.
You shoot once more, hit the heart.
With a pitiful whimper and a gush of blood,
the beast dies.

“I promise not to oppress you with too much remorse or too much passion, though since you left us the white rose bush has died of grief.”

This line often runs through my head after breakups or other separations from loved ones.

Just remove the part about passion, and keep “since you left, the white rose bush has died of grief,” and it can apply to friends and family just as easily.

I put it on my Facebook profile for some time after the friendship breakup with Richard, to express my grief.

It is my favorite line from Peter Firth in the 80s rendition of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey:

(Sorry for the bad quality: It’s apparently the only video the BBC has not bumped off Youtube.)

It’s not in the book, only in this movie, but it’s so poetic that I wish Jane Austen had written it herself.

Confronting Shawn’s Psychological Abuse; A Proposed Cool-Off–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–December 1992, Part 2

Confronting Shawn’s Psychological Abuse

On the 10th, I got up at 8:19 but had to lie down to not get overcome by nausea (the flu, you dirty-minded people), but Clarissa was probably at class by that time.

My first impulse was to call Shawn because we both had Music History that morning.  I could also have called Pearl, but Cindy might still be sleeping.  At least if I called Shawn, it would probably be a wake-up call, the only thing he’d found so far that got him up on time.

I brought the phone (just a receiver with a cord, no cradle) to my desk so I could lean against the backrest on my bed, and dialed his extension.  Two or three rings; then a weak, sleep-laden “Hello?”

“Shawn?” I said in a much stronger and more awake voice.

“Yeah.”

“Are you awake?”

“Just barely.  I only got three hours of sleep last night.  I didn’t get to bed until 5.”  (That was from studying, and had nothing to do with me.)

Five?  That’s even worse than four!”  (Referring to an earlier conversation.)

“That’s how long it took P– and me to get to bed.  I got my Calculus done!”

“Finally!”  That’s all I ever seemed to hear about–the Calculus homework he had to do.

“What time is it now?”

“8:39.”

“So I have 36 minutes to get to class.  Thanks for waking me up.”

“Probably longer for you.” (This referred to his chronic lateness.)

“No, you’d be surprised what I can do when I have to.”  This is the same day that I later heard from Pearl: He got to class on time, highly unlike him, but some other kid was late.  He said, “I even got here on time.  Why didn’t you?”

He said, “My mom called me at 8 this morning.”  (I suppose he went back to sleep then.)  “Then you called.  I thought, ‘My alarm clock’s pretty loud this morning.  It’s never been that loud before.  Oh, it’s the phone.  Aw, man!'”

“What were we going to do in class today?”

“Turn in papers, maybe do some listening to music, etc.”

I said, “I hope it’s nothing too important for me to miss.”

“Why?  What’re you doing that’s so important that you’re skipping class?”

“That’s why I called you.–Probably barfing.”

“Oh!  Well, if you think barfing is more important than going to Music History and Appreciation….I only got three hours of sleep.  So, you see, there are people going to class in worse shape than you.”

“Could you tell him for me?”

“Yeah, I’ll tell him you’re going to be too busy barfing to go to class.”

“Don’t tell him that!  Tell him I feel sick and can’t go to class this morning.”

“Okay.  Anything else?”

“No.  I was going to keep the phone call short, just in case.

Clarissa was a good roommate, getting box lunches for me from the cafeteria.

****

That night, I wrote to a friend that I still hadn’t barfed yet, but sure felt like I would.  I wrote that Shawn kept talking about his old girlfriend all the time.  I wrote, “I feel like saying, ‘Quit bringing her up!  She’s engaged; she’s gone!  Start thinking about me!”

In another place I wrote that he was afraid we were on the rebound, but by then, we both should have been off the rebound.  It had been twice as long since the breakup than Peter and I had been together, and it was a year and a half for Shawn.

On the 11th, he said that, due to long and complicated reasons, “Let’s wait until after the break to talk about the things we have to talk about, because right now I just can’t handle that and finals.”

On the 13th, I noted that Shawn was overburdened and almost burned out.  This could have influenced what happened later.  It certainly meant that I was getting no visits from him; my arm and flu would also have affected that.

I prayed that he would figure out his true feelings for me, whatever they might be–though I also prayed that he would like me.

I played with him a lot when I saw him.  That day, when he walked up to my table, I said in a fake mean voice, “What do you want?”  He smiled at me.

On the 15th, I’d been studying for Music History finals with Clarissa, when Shawn called around 11 or 11:30.  Even though it was originally supposed to be about music, he asked me to tell him what I’d been wanting to say.  I began to say, “Why are you always criticizing me?  My friends don’t agree with you, and they like me just fine!”

This may have been referring to a time when Shawn told me things people had told him about me.  Since I didn’t record the things he said this time, I don’t remember them all now, but rather how they made me feel.  These things were nasty and untrue, yet he believed them!

Also, someone had asked Shawn why I was sad all the time.  He said, “She wants to be.”  What kind of crap was that?

I was no longer depressed about the breakup, not since probably mid-October or early November, but I had plenty of other things to be depressed about: Peter kept playing with my mind, pretending to be friendly and then biting my hand every time I extended it in friendship.  He spread lies about me and even used the administration to try to force me to shut up about what really happened.

Shawn’s actions did not match his words, and he kept criticizing me.  Shawn should have said, “She’s sad because she’s dealing with some difficult stuff in her life right now.”  Anyone would have understood and cut me some slack.

But instead, his reply made me sound maudlin or morose, like I was too stubborn to be happy, like I wanted attention or enjoyed sadness, like I was a negative person who would always be a downer.  In fact, I am an optimistic person who is usually content.  We can’t be expected to be happy all the time, no matter what, just to please others.

I needed Shawn’s support, not his criticism.  I was being cruelly treated by my ex and needed someone there to help me through it, not criticize me for being upset about it.  This is a common problem for people being abused or bullied in some way, being treated like there’s something wrong with them if they don’t blow it off and pretend it didn’t happen.

I told him now that I wanted him to defend me against the character assassinations of his friends.  Who were these people, anyway?  I didn’t know.  He refused to tell me who they were.

He didn’t even tell me details or dates or examples or anything that could’ve supported his claims; there was nothing to jog my memory so I could say, Oh, that’s what happened, that’s what I did.  They could be people who didn’t even really know me, people who had some axe to grind for some unknown reason.

All my life, from babyhood through high school, I had been bullied by other kids, made fun of and called weird and accused of nasty things I did not do or think, with no clue why they treated me so cruelly when I was nice and meek to everyone, and far too terrified of everyone to do the things they accused me of.  So it was hardly a stretch to believe it was happening all over again with new bullies.

These people were calling me “just Nyssa” to Shawn, like there was nothing about me worth bothering with.  Maybe it was Heidi; I never could figure out what she had against me.  I was just late on occasion to suite meetings; I wasn’t mean or anything to her.

Maybe it was a friend of Peter’s, such as Dave O’Hara, who–I discovered the following year–just listened to whatever Peter said and decided I was a horrible person without even knowing me or interacting with me in any way.

Shawn said things that I could not imagine even doing, could not remember doing.  The only people I could be close enough to, to do these things, would be my close friends–including Shawn.  My old suitemates seemed to like me just fine; my current suitemates, some I liked, some I didn’t like so much after the pledging fiasco, but I mostly did my own thing and didn’t interact with them often enough for there to be disputes with them.

But other than Shawn, my close friends insisted the complaints were not true.

Some of the things may have been true for a little while freshman year, but those issues were situational, had long since stopped, and I no longer did that (such as incessant talking about Peter, which I stopped early in the spring after Sharon complained).

I lived by a code of niceness, sweetness and kindness to everyone, so that others would not suffer from me what I had suffered from others.

And most of the time, this is how people described me, even Shawn freshman year: nice, sweet, innocent, kind, caring.  And usually I was too frightened of others I did not know well, to do any of these things.

Everyone has faults, but Shawn made me sound like this horrible, mean, aggressive person who went around hurting people.

But when I perceived that someone was dangerous for me, such as a bully, I would avoid that person, not antagonize them, since I did not have verbal sparring capabilities.

I don’t recall ever yelling or arguing with anyone, not even Heidi.  My problems with Ruth did not include yelling, just her criticizing all the time and me quietly seething, because she was my teacher and not my equal.

Outside of Shawn, my only dispute was with Peter, and I rarely spoke to him.  I rarely spoke to most people beyond a few simple pleasantries or class discussion, and when I spoke to friends, most of the time it was pleasant and fun.

None of his criticisms made any sense; they did not sound like me at all.  This is one reason why I identified with the description of people with NVLD being accused of all sorts of things they don’t actually do, because their disorder makes them appear to be acting deliberately when they are not:

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. —Sue Thompson, Nonverbal Learning Disorders

As for him–What, was he upset that I would disagree with him and get angry at him for how he treated me?  Was this why he thought I had these faults?  Were these unnamed other people actually made up to validate his remarks?

Like, for example, he scolded me once for chasing him, but he kept letting me catch him, encouraged me by coming over and asking me over, then begging or encouraging me to do the things he wanted.

If he did not keep kissing and carrying on with me, I would have stopped “chasing” him and turned my attention to James.

Rather, I always let him take the lead, let him decide when to come over or ask me over, let him decide when he wanted to do more than talk, because I did not wish to force him into anything, to be blamed for any of it.  He could have stopped the physical relationship at any time.

When he used my body, led me on this way because every time he said he wouldn’t do it again so I thought this time he was doing it out of love, and then constantly criticized me afterwards, I had the right to be angry.

When he constantly analyzed our relationship, I felt I had the right to respond with my own perceptions, not just agree with his.

I also felt criticized, like I wasn’t worth dating, because some of my theological ideas were different from his.  He’d tell me he wasn’t so sure about dating me because I believed in ESP.

As if I had to agree with him on every doctrinal point or I wasn’t worth dating, no matter what my other qualities were.  Couldn’t I think for myself?

Yet even my Nazarene pastor, at my church back home in South Bend, believed in ESP.  I believe it was he who said we must have ESP for God to be able to speak to us.

Later, in March, Shawn kept asking me, “What else is going on?” so I kept thinking of something to say to answer his question, even though I was probably tired and wanted to go back to my room.  Then he complained that I was rude to keep him up so late that night.  !!!!!  Why did he keep asking me to keep talking if he wanted me to leave?

Was he actually projecting his own faults onto me still, as he once admitted to doing?  And all these supposed faults were his reasons for not making an honest woman of me, a legitimate girlfriend rather than a toy when he was bored.

He also kept comparing and contrasting me to his ex-girlfriend.  I was always found wanting for one reason or another, whether my appearance or the way I did things:

I was too reserved.  I didn’t do my hair like other girls.  I didn’t wear makeup.  I didn’t dress sexy enough.  I didn’t play around with friends enough (i.e., behave like an extrovert).  Everything I did was wrong.  Everything about me was wrong.

Even the first day we ever met, in September 1991, he scolded me for probably an hour, cutting down everything about the way I acted, saying I was too shy and needed to talk to complete strangers.  He’d say his ex was like this, making me think if he liked one girl like this, he could like another–but no, it became a fault he could not get past.

He screwed with my head so much that I wanted to scream.

I wanted him to see me as beautiful, sweet, smart, passionate, creative and pious.  I wanted him to know everything about me and like what he knew.

I wanted him to recognize what I did: that we both liked many of the same TV shows and music, had similar religious backgrounds; he had a nutty sense of humor which I could appreciate; and we could have a lot of fun together if only he would do what he kept admonishing me to do every time he got me to lie down next to him: relax!

But now I was having it all out with him in our phone call.  I didn’t record everything, not wanting to remember much of it, so I don’t remember what I said, what he said.

But there were tears on both sides (him about his past, me about something I did not record).  There were also things he did not want me to reveal to anyone, so I won’t.  He eventually told me I could forget everything he said before I began to cry.

Shawn asked, “Are you crying?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Tell me again what you want to say to me.  I’m listening.”

I told him that I’ve always been told I’m weird, that I’ve always believed it.  Probably from something he said, I said, “I didn’t realize it was more than a suspicion.”

“No, you are definitely not weird, no matter what you believe.  You’re one of the most normal people I know.  Now things you do and say make sense to me.  I’ve found out what it was I could never put my finger on.”

I told him how Peter had been making me feel.  I told him how an old admirer/crush in high school called me beautiful: He flirted with me all through Photography class.

When one day he finally asked me out, I had, unfortunately, discovered from my mom that I was not allowed to date till I turned 16.  This guy then put his hand to my face and said, “You are beautiful!”  Peter called me gorgeous and the most beautiful girl on campus.

But Shawn had torn that all down again, always saying he was not attracted to me, even after spending an evening acting as if he were, making me feel homely and undesirable, when my lack of dates and boyfriends back in high school had already made me feel this way.

Shawn said, “Maybe I’m shallower than Peter, then, since I couldn’t see your beauty.  A beautiful side to you is certainly coming out now.”

He realized how he’d harmed me by always criticizing me, due to my “demon,” the insecurity, the belief of being weird, and the not having found myself.  (I think the last is just psychobabble, frankly, but I had the idea I was supposed to do this.)

He told me to cry, get it all out, because he was there in my room with me, in spirit.  He’d finally broken down a barrier.  We talked until almost 4am!  (Test–Music History–9am, Tuesday!)

He said, “The phone is the best way for us to talk because it’s not physical.”  I agreed.  He said, “If I’d come over tonight, something else would’ve been happening instead.”

As for the “she wants to be sad” comment, he told me what he’d really meant, but that it didn’t come across the way he’d intended.  Unfortunately, I didn’t record the true meaning and have now forgotten it.

A Proposed Cool-Off

We spoke more after lunch on the 17th.  He gave me some brochures on self-esteem from a nearby table, since the campus kept various such brochures by Memadmin’s office.  He rolled them up together and handed them to me.

I tried to put them that way into my right coat pocket, so people wouldn’t see what they were about.  He said they weren’t going to fit, but they fit, and I buttoned them in.  I said, to use Shawn’s recent assessment of me, “I have a strong will.  I made them fit.”  He smiled.

I told him more things….

Then I had to type up “Bedlam Castle” for my final, and he had to finish some delinquent Physics homework.  (Geez–Physics and Calculus?  No wonder he was so swamped!)  But later on, we spoke again.

He said the physical things were going to stop because they felt wrong to him.  From that and other conversations later, it was clear that things were spinning way out of control; we were playing with fire.  I said, “You’ve said that before.”  He said, “Yeah, but this time it is going to stop.”

I felt relieved on one hand but depressed on the other.  It felt like a breakup because I enjoyed it so much.

I suggested we do more social things together, start getting to know each other, hobbies, likes, dislikes.  I hoped this would begin a new stage, that maybe he would eventually return my feelings.

He said, “I can’t be your boy friend, but I can be your best friend.”  Even that elated me, since I’d wanted him to be my best friend since February.

It felt we had turned a corner, that things would be different now.  He felt so sorry for the night that had scared me.  He recited the Epistle verse that we are to think on whatever is virtuous, whatever is pure (Philippians 4:8).  I said I no longer felt virtuous and pure; he said, “No, you are still virtuous and pure.”

The funny thing is, this whole weird twisted relationship lasted longer than the others I had before I met my husband: one year and two months.

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:

Richard: The Collateral Damage

Currently reading this post on Upsi’s blog.  It’s heartbreaking to read this exchange and realize that two people who love each other (Upsi and her brother) are being kept apart because of Upsi’s situation with her mother.

I see a guy who really wants to re-connect with his beloved sister, but feels unable to.  I see Upsi wanting to re-connect, but feeling like he’s playing mind games and acting just like her mother….

Upsi’s blog has connected with me because her family found her blog, has been reading it for the past 3 years, and Upsi continues to deal with their responses to it.  It’s like she’s the trailblazer and I’m finding out how she dealt with it.

This post reminds me of how frickin’ screwed up this whole situation with Richard is.  My problem was not originally with him, it was with Tracy and only Tracy.  But because of the nature of everything, the friendship with Richard got screwed up as well, pulled into this crap as much as I wanted to keep it separate.

(I tried to post a little message to Richard but he never saw it.  As far as I can recall, it was, as posted in my Martian stuff, “I was going to show this stuff to you, Richard, before everything blew up.  My problem was not originally with you.  Peace.  Enjoy.”)

If I had my druthers, I would have jettisoned any sort of relationship with Tracy, but kept the friendship with Richard.  Apparently Todd did this at one point, around 2009 or 2010.

This is also what advice columnists and Net dwellers say to people who ask, What if I can’t stand my best friend’s spouse?  They say, Then hang out with your friend and not with the spouse.

It only seems fair, if you love two people (I mean different kinds of love) but they can’t stand each other, to let them stay away from each other and not irritate each other.  Why give the drama a chance to occur?

I certainly would never demand that my husband’s friends hang out with me.  He’s had friends I didn’t care for.  He had one female friend who I was sure did not like me for some reason, even though I tried to befriend her and chat with her.  But I just shrugged it off and did not force anything.

(I think this is one major reason why my marriage has gone for 15 years now with no sign of stopping.  In fact, I consider it more like 17 years, because I moved in with “Jeff” on July 4, 1995 and never moved out again.  We still enjoy being together, running the house together, are friends and partners, lust after each other–and give each other space.

(We have privacy; we have trust.  It’s easygoing.  I say God forbid anything happen to Jeff before we’re so old that I don’t need a husband anymore, because I hate to think of what would happen if I got widowed, married again, and found a very different situation.)

Of course, the fly in the ointment is the discovery of what Richard himself did to one of his kids.  The state had enough evidence to convict him, and he pled no contest rather than fight a charge which will keep him from the very thing he kept telling me he wanted to be (a priest).

That tells me he is guilty.  The state proclaimed him guilty.

When I asked my priest about it a year ago, having told him my former best friend had done this, he said that no, someone with such a conviction cannot be ordained an Orthodox priest.

He has screwed up his own life, his own dreams; but the feeling of contempt and justice I once had for this fact, has been replaced by a deep sadness….

Even if we had remained friends, as I had wished for so long, what would this have done to that?

Would I have felt forced, because of deeply held convictions about child abuse, to end the friendship anyway (since, with it published in the newspaper which I read cover-to-cover each day, I would have found out about it eventually)?

Is it possible to ever have it back again?  The likelihood of abusers repenting and reforming, is very small.  They have to truly want it.  But abusers tend to be narcissists, seeing nothing wrong with themselves, no reason to change.  I want very much to be wrong about the narcissism.

There’s also the nagging feeling of having somehow betrayed Richard, as well, by telling about the way he’d been treated, the way the kids had been treated.

But there are some secrets you should not keep, and I had always hoped that somehow, spilling these secrets would help him.  That any mutual friends who might read would intervene, now that I no longer could.  (Envying the mutual friends for still talking to him.  Feeling betrayed and abandoned.)

I was afraid for him, afraid for the children, worried I would one day hear about them on the 6:00 news.  He had told me things were going on, that made me fear that one day he would not be able to contain himself.  I keep hoping he will understand how scared I was for him, and forgive.

Originally, I did not realize that he was doing abusive things himself, did not expect to find he had a criminal case pending against him.  Now, it’s the hope that Tracy and/or Richard will somehow recognize in my words just what they have been doing, and change.  Because when one screwed-up generation raises another generation, that new generation gets screwed-up as well and the problems perpetuate.

I also had no idea when I started writing down what happened, that I would discover Richard’s narcissistic traits as well.  I saw him more as the bull with a ring in his nose keeping him docile.  The traces of violence I remembered and pulled up, became more disturbing the more I wrote.

But he seemed so–tame and controlled when I knew him.  The violence was still there, which he himself admitted to in a threatening e-mail to Jeff when Jeff dared to express a criticism of how Richard had been acting–and threatening, intimidating acts when Jeff dared to say that Tracy was also behaving very badly…..

Shortly after the “breakup,” Chris talked to me on Facebook chat.  I wondered if he’d been sent by Richard, or if he told Richard what I said.  Richard and I both gave him very little detail about what happened.  I was embarrassed because of what Chris thought the nature of the disagreement was….

I told him that wasn’t what was going on.  That I missed Richard and hoped that one day there would be forgiveness…..

He tried to get me to reconsider, to forgive, said it makes him sad to see longtime friendships end.  I wondered if Richard had anything to do with this.

But I felt my hands were tied: Without a change in Tracy’s behavior, without her allowing Richard to be my friend without her, without Richard and Tracy apologizing for and no longer blaming me for their many crimes against Jeff and me both, there could be nothing at all.

A year later, when I discovered the criminal charges and the nature of them, a friend told me that as painful as it was, God was protecting me by this breach.

Ambivalence.  That’s what I feel toward Richard.  A desire to reconnect still remains, a hope that in future years, this will all be behind us, that he and I will be friends again.  But there is also fear, knowing what I now know about him, wondering if he’s ever really going to change, ever going to eradicate the violence.

Forget that crap, a snide remark about not having all the facts–Nothing can excuse choking a kid, I don’t care what happened.  No additional “facts” can change that.

If it was an accident, they would not have called it “intentional causation of bodily harm” in the original charges.  Or amended it during the plea bargain to say,

Whoever causes bodily harm to another by an act done with intent to cause bodily harm to that person or another without the consent of the person so harmed is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor (battery; substantial battery; aggravated battery).

And he admitted to doing it.  If it were an accident or somehow he was innocent, then not only should he not have admitted to doing it, but he should have fought it.

So if he does try to tell me he was somehow persecuted by the police, or (again) that I don’t have all the facts, I won’t buy it.

I hope I wouldn’t have been gullible enough to believe him if I were still his friend when this happened.  I’ve been gullible with people quite often during my lifetime.  At least if we ever do reconcile, there will be no lie between us: I’ll know about this.

(Yes, I still remember the good times.  I remember how we talked all the time right before you moved up here.  I remember how you looked at me when we first met in person: like two people connected by philia (deep, true friendship) without ever having met.  I would’ve done anything for you just out of pure philia.  I would love to be wrong about the narcissism.)

I just don’t forget people so easily.  I’ve kept connected with my college group over the years, mostly by e-mail, occasionally with visits.  These days, I consider my best friends to be two old college friends who live too far away to see often.

I love Facebook because I’d always wanted to re-connect with people I once knew.  I still remember and mourn the loss of a girl who used to go to my church, we’d sit and chat every Sunday, and giggle through the services–until one day when I heard her family just picked up and left for another church.  That was back in my early teens!

When once a person makes it into my heart, they don’t leave.  I still think of Phil from time to time.  And Peter.  And Shawn.

Though the romances with them are long gone, and I don’t want to be with them now, I still remember them and wonder how they’re doing.  I save many of the gifts or letters they gave me, hold onto old diary entries about them, save their pictures.

One reason I wrote my private version of the College Memoirs was to hold onto all my memories of them.  As I wrote in my diary back in March 1993, after Shawn objected to me writing about the things he and I did,

Maybe math-brains just don’t understand the writer’s need to record even the most special memories–which we don’t want to fade….Besides, these memories are all a part of me–so I’m not about to burn them or let them fade.  I’d lose a part of myself that way.

For a time I distanced myself from Todd, after what happened between him and Richard, but it was painful (I couldn’t even listen to a song Todd liked), and I have since let him back into my life.  We have both been through the same thing with the same people, after all, giving us a certain bond and perspective nobody else can understand.

Old friends who for some reason slipped away, I found again on Facebook, and got to see them again in real life as well.

I am intensely loyal; speaking up about Richard did feel like a betrayal, and was excruciatingly hard to do.

I’m not sure people realize it, because I also have an introvert’s/Aspie’s tendency to not do things other people do to keep up friendships: I tend not to call people, for example, since I greatly prefer communicating either face-to-face or by the written word.

But they’re still in my hearts, even if I have not seen them for many years.  I write down memories of them, save the letters/e-mails they send me, hold onto them.  Richard will never leave my heart, either.

When Richard came to my church shortly after being convicted, at first I was repulsed just to see him.  I was furious with him, hated him, had long since stopped crying.  But after I got home, I cried, not just that day but other days as well, from missing the children and grief at losing Richard’s friendship.  As I wrote on my blog on 10/25/11:

I had thought I’d never see Richard at my church again, but there he was on Sunday. A wound I thought was healing has been ripped open again, gaping and oozing.

It’s hard for me to even get myself up and going to church on Sunday mornings, for fear that they will be there. They’ve surprised me a few times at church, or at my church’s Greek Fest, since the breach, even though I rarely ever saw them there before. (They go elsewhere.)

It felt like they were doing it on purpose to terrorize me. Every time I saw them, I’d barely make it through, feel like collapsing, have to fight to keep from trembling. Only anger at all the abuse could give me strength to get through.

This time, Hubby and I saw their vehicle in the parking lot, so Hubby stayed to give me moral support. (He has his own church and normally just drops me off at mine.)

(See Narcissistic Webs for reasons why I’d be scared of Richard: his huge size, his choking one of his kids, his past as a goomba, his almost physically assaulting a lady and saying he’d leave no trace that he was ever there, his threatening my husband with physical violence and saying he’s very easily triggered to it.

Also, there were violent things he told me about his past. He said he’d been arrested more than a hundred times, but I have no idea for what, or if he was acquitted; it was before he lived in my state, which has a public-access website with details of court cases.

And Tracy is also a very scary person, much larger than I am, violent physically and verbally. Richard told me that once, in my house, she almost killed me over something, and I had no idea.

I have no idea if he meant it literally or as hyperbole, but for months afterward, my mind kept going to that, imagining what it would have been like to feel her fists, wondering if Hubby or Richard would have pulled her off me in time, imagining Hubby calling the cops.

Just sitting and watching That 70s Show, one kid would hit another kid, and I’d flinch. And yet I was expected to “befriend” her, be buddy-buddy with her, without so much as an “I’m sorry” from her, or else I was to blame for all the crap she threw at me.)

This time, it was just Richard and two of his kids, not the one who was choked. It was all very quiet, no scenes or anything. He didn’t even take communion.

During coffee hour, my son played with the two kids. One is only about 5 and just happy-go-lucky whatever happens. She’d pass by us and maybe smile or give a hug. Just the sweetest, most adorable little girl. The other one is 7, and upset at Hubby and me for not coming around anymore.

Before I left, I got waylaid by the two girls after Hubby and my son had already gone out. I gave them hugs and smiles, but also got the older one’s scolding eyes. She said things in a scolding tone like, “You guys don’t come around anymore,” “We miss you,” “It was fun to play at your house.” Hubby also got her scolding eyes earlier.

My heart broke right there. I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the reasons.

I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the abuse, how Tracy had verbally eviscerated me over a misunderstanding and had no remorse, how her father had done a terrible, evil deed to her sister, how he had once planned to do a terrible, evil deed to a lady who had upset him two years ago, and made me afraid of him, afraid of what horrible deeds he could do to me.

I couldn’t explain to her in a way that she could understand it had nothing to do with her. All I could say was, “We miss you, too,” and try not to cry. I’ve been miserable ever since, missing her and the other children.

I just kept hoping during coffee hour that Richard would come to Hubby and me and apologize for all the things he’d done to us, and was very disappointed when he didn’t. I still keep hoping.

I hope that, because of the criminal conviction, he’s using his probation as a second chance to change things around.  I hope that one day things will be different, that his abusive home environment will become healthy and good, that he will come to us.

Websites on abusers keep saying, “Don’t hope for change. Let go of the hope for change. Accept that this is the way they are and will always be. Don’t listen when the Church says they can change.”

But in my heart I just don’t believe that.  I was angry. I tried to hold onto my anger to distance myself from Richard and all the pain. But it’s all just vanished and sadness has returned.

When he came to our city four years ago, I had no idea things would turn out like this.  I gave them so much of myself, trying to help them, because Richard’s friendship was so important and special to me.

He had never said anything about an abusive homelife, not until then.

One person on an Orthodox message board noted that I sound emotionally and spiritually traumatized. This is certainly true. If you are religious, please pray for me and this whole situation, which affects not just me but four innocent children.

And if you are Richard and somehow found my blog, please, PLEASE work on yourself and get rid of the violence. For me, for Hubby, for yourself, for your children. And then feel free to get in touch with us.  (It’s impossible to send any of these things directly to Richard.)  But these are the things you must do and say:

1) Assure me that you are not going to go all goomba on me.
2) Apologize for the things that went on the final week of our friendship:
a) Threatening Hubby with verbal and physical violence for sticking up for me on 6/28/10.
b) Throwing me under the bus when Tracy went ballistic, rather than explaining to her the truth of what happened and what I meant by my e-mail; letting her go off on me; giving in to her so I was not even allowed to explain and exonerate myself.  You knew very well that what I was referring to was a sisterly/brotherly hug of gratitude, and that it had been your idea.
c) Getting into Hubby’s face and intimidating him for sticking up for me.
3) Apologize for, a month later, justifying Tracy’s verbal abuse of me, blaming me for it, then lying to me about why you hadn’t seen my e-mail and why you blocked us on Facebook. Being so deceitful that I actually thought Tracy was going to finally apologize, when instead I was opened up to more verbal abuse and accusations from her. Treating me like this was all my problem that I had to get over, rather than admitting that Tracy had been bullying me and getting you to do her dirty work.
4) Admit to your violent tendencies and demonstrate that you are working on them, that you will not threaten us again, will not choke your daughter again, will stop lecturing us on how to discipline children. Take anger management courses, study the Philokalia and Ladder of Divine Ascent, take parenting classes.

As for Tracy–I don’t want to hear from or see you again.  Unless, of course, you’re ready to forgive me for being naturally shy and quiet, and acknowledge your own share in the problems, your own abusive behaviors.

Why do you come here
When you know it makes things hard for me ?
When you know, oh
Why do you come ? Suedehead, Morrissey

The Fire Burns Hotter; The Dreadful Night (Shawn Almost Goes Too Far); Accidents Will Happen–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–December 1992, Part 1

InterVarsity Group is Organized

My RA friends, Sharon and Rachel, now jokingly insisted, whenever we referred to the dorms, that “They’re not dorms, they’re residence halls!”  Apparently this was some mantra the school tried to teach the RA’s.

Sometime probably in December, when Pearl connected our Bible study group with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, we began organizing it and making rules.  A bunch of us who were interested in the group got together in Pearl’s room for a meeting.

We began talking about the politics of it, such as officers and how officers are chosen.  I don’t remember who suggested that officers should follow Christian beliefs.  This may have been when a questionnaire was suggested, asking what an aspiring officer believed.

The beliefs seemed to go a bit beyond the Apostle’s Creed and trespassed into denominational dogma territory.

I said that some people of other denominations might not be able to serve with a questionnaire like that, and that it excluded people who were going through a period of questioning and searching but were still Christians.

But Pearl said the officers of the group needed to be held to a high standard because they were the leaders of the group.

A vote was taken, and the majority agreed with Pearl.

I knew, however, that even I couldn’t stand up to such standards.  I had lots of questions about my religion, and when I heard the questionnaire questions one day, I knew that even though Pearl and Sharon and maybe others kept saying I should be an officer on the executive board, they probably wouldn’t actually let me be one after seeing my answers.

InterVarsity meetings, based on a slip I found, were: Bible study, Mondays at 9pm in Old Main (room 22, it says, but we also did room 14, same time, during Winterim and Spring Semester).  Spring Semester, we often used the Phi-Delt room as well.

When we met in room 14, Pearl and other discussion leaders liked to leave on the board whatever they had written there for our meeting, hoping to amuse or witness to the first class to use it the next morning.  We left some pretty strange messages up there at times.  We had a lot of fun with this.

We had some cool people show up that year, even a few guys.  Unfortunately, two left for UW-Madison, one may have left the school, and we were left with only one guy most of the time.  This was Mike, the brother of the pledge master.  But more about him later.

We discovered in Bible study meetings that Dori, my fellow pledge, was quite a flirt.  She was engaged, yet still flirted with all the guys just like she did when she was single.  She told of being a big heartbreaker in high school.

One day after a snowfall, Rachel built a cute little snowman on Pearl’s scooter, in the basket.

One week in December, I got the flu and had to spend at least a couple of days in my room.  I didn’t even go out for meals; my wonderful roommate went out and got me sick trays, or rather styrofoam boxes, from the cafeteria.

Besides homework and MTV, I passed the time by reading about 100 pages of Clarissa by Samuel Richardson.  I mentioned this book before; I had seen the movie on Masterpiece Theatre, and now I found the abridged book in the Roanoke library.

Shawn said once that, rather than sitting there feeling bad about his criticisms, I should turn it around and say, “I don’t care what you think, I don’t want to do my hair/wear my clothes that way.”

I began doing this, telling him to let me be the way I wanted to be and not always try to change me.  But you see, until then, it just hadn’t occurred to me.  I didn’t realize that just because he thought I didn’t look right or act right, didn’t make it true.

Shawn told me once that Cinemax came in quite well in Grossh Lounge, even though it was supposed to be blocked because we weren’t supposed to get it at RC (Roanoke).  The guys there often watched it.

After we had a maintenance guy come in and fix our heater knob, Clarissa and I kept our room nice and warm (often hot) during the winter.  This was a wonderful change from the year before.  Only extreme cold outside made the inside cold.

Some more things about Steve: He had Siouxsie and the Banshees posters plastered all over his dorm room walls.  He said he liked the band, but Catherine believed it was because Siouxsie didn’t wear much clothing in many of the posters.

Also, whenever someone would say, “You’re weird,” he would say, “Thank you!”  Pearl jokingly said, you truly are weird if you respond like that.

The Fire Burns Hotter; The Dreadful Night (Shawn Almost Goes Too Far)

On Sunday November 29, back at school, Shawn called me up when he got back from home.  Then he came over because he was tired of Calculus; before he left, he hugged me and gave me a kiss on the neck that made me curl up.  He was acting so much like a boyfriend that it was hard to believe he wasn’t one.

The next night, we had Bible study; Shawn was there, teasing me unmercifully for being late and a klutz.  He winked at me once.

He stopped in my room for a while, then called me up around midnight; we talked until almost 3:30.  Once, he said, “If there weren’t a curfew, I’d be over there in a minute.”  (Actually, there was no curfew in the suites.)

He said that someone told him a while ago, “Don’t you think you’re just leading her on by always going over there?”  He agreed, and stopped coming over so much.

But from the way he said it, I got the impression that he changed his mind since then.  I asked him to clarify; it seemed to confirm this.  I also told him, “I know I’m not in love with you.”

We had Music History the next morning, so we both were dead tired.  He told me to give him a wake-up call so he wouldn’t sleep in and be late yet again (which the teacher teased him unmercifully about).

That night, Tuesday December 1, even though I planned to get some sleep, he stopped over again, and didn’t leave until 2 or 2:30–even though we both had morning classes.

We began fooling around.  That was the night of the trouble.  Things happened.  I kissed him so long and well that he went into overdrive.  I’ll keep details out, out of respect for him.

Then the phone rang–a wrong number.  He did not do what I feared he would, but he felt terrible, and I was shaking.

He hurried into the lounge, put on his jacket, and I joined him, sitting on the floor.  We talked for a while.  He was afraid Clarissa saw him get the phone and would ask why he was there so late.  He asked what I’d say, and I said, “Only what I have to.”  She never did ask.  He said he’d stop and go home when I said stop.

I longed for him to hold me.  As if he read my mind, he put his arm around me, drew me near, and I put my head on his chest.  I felt like crying, but couldn’t.  I put my face in my hands once; he wanted me to look at him and answer a question he asked.  He thought maybe he should stop coming over, but I didn’t want him to.

“Then maybe I shouldn’t come over for a few days,” he said.

I felt this was wise, so agreed, but said this weekend would be all right.

He said, “I’m not sure how I feel about you, if there’s really something there or if it’s just lust.”

Later, after more fooling around, which he insisted on until I finally agreed, he said, “Now this is a goodnight kiss,” and gave me a much shorter and less intense, but still great kiss.  “Anything else is more than that.”  He also finally spun me around again.

In April he said he would not have taken my virginity that night, but it sure didn’t feel that way to me at the time.  For some time, I thought that was his intent, and referred to it in my diary as the “Dreadful Day.”

For all his talk of not wanting me as a girlfriend but as a “best friend,” we were drawn to each other like magnets.  And also like magnets, we would repel each other.

It was a strange dance, sometimes loving him, sometimes hating him, him sometimes persuading me into all he could get, and in the same evening ripping me to shreds with his words.

But when the words would cease, when we were no longer out and about around campus but alone together, heat filled the room, and it felt like he truly cared for me, somewhere deep inside.

This was one night when he did not scold or criticize.

As we kept skirting the actual “deed” over the many months of our friendship with benefits, he led me into all sorts of sensuality.  He stirred up passions in me that even Peter had not, things I intended to keep repressed until my wedding night.

But the more he stirred them up, the more I did not want him to stop–but felt I had to stop him.  Our bodies are made to keep going, after all, to perpetuate the species; this is not from the Devil, but from our own animal nature.  So when you stir it up when you’re supposed to be abstinent, it’s difficult to stop….

I found a Christmas card to him which I must not have sent, since it was unopened–probably because I wrote on the inside that he made me miserable much of the time.

I have no idea what all the rumor mill thought was going on, since from my diaries I see that even my own best friends had no idea how often he was coming over or what all we were doing.  (I’m keeping out details here, too, not from lack of record in the diaries, which are full of description, but from tact.)  It was just the sort of thing to set tongues wagging, too.

Clarissa was the only one who knew how often he came over or I went over there, though we were seen together or coming out of each other’s dorms on occasion:

I was supposedly still hung up on Peter, though people also knew I had a thing for Shawn; Shawn was the obnoxious and over-analytical engineering geek who told people he didn’t want me as a girlfriend; did the rumor mill have any idea just what was really going on?

It’s possible, since I–wanting to get people to stop thinking I was so “innocent”–made comments like, “I’m not a pop tart but still a frequent visitor at Grossheusch,” and “Sometimes I have to beat Shawn off with a stick.”

All I know for sure is that even Peter heard about it; maybe that’s why he eventually softened toward me, because there was another guy in my life now.

Accidents Will Happen

On Wednesday the 2nd, Shawn and I were both tired.  He told me to call him if I was awake at 7 or 8, but I didn’t get up until almost 8:30.  We both took naps; once he called and said, “Did I wake you up?  Are you napping?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“So am I,” he said.

At lunch he sat next to me; I felt glad but uncomfortable, because of what had happened the night before.

I wore shoes instead of boots to class because I looked out the window and saw no ice left on the sidewalks.  But the sidewalk outside the library, which was on a small hill, was one big sheet of ice, the only ice anywhere.  On the way to work from class later that afternoon, I slipped.

After I fell the first time, I was too scared to move over to the snow beside the sidewalk, since that would mean moving sideways and possibly falling again.  I took another step or two, then fell again.

Shawn later said with a smile that an intelligent person would have known to get off the ice, that slipping–twice!–is the mark of a klutz.  But hey, it was a big hill of ice and even non-klutzes could have fallen.  Getting off the ice was hard for a short person on a wide sidewalk.

Though the report says the hill was salted, and though Memadmin said she saw maintenance crews salting it all day, this is not what I saw.  From my close-up view of the ice, there was no salt on it at all.

A non-trad from one of my classes saw me and asked if I was okay.  She helped me up.

“I got so worried about you when I saw you fall twice,” she said.

At that time I felt little pain, though my left arm had been pulled down by my heavy bookbag and did hurt somewhat.  But I figured it was enough pain to make Food Service horrible.

I went on to the cafeteria and found Nancy.  I said I’d fallen and was too hurt to work.  She and Arthur were concerned, though I thought I was just bruised.

“Come see me if the pain gets any worse,” Nancy said.

I went back to my room.  As I sat on my bed studying, the pain grew worse and worse.  I either called or found Nancy, and told her what was going on.  She told Memadmin.  Memadmin found someone to drive me to a clinic in S–.  My arm hurt so bad now that my eyes teared up.

The doctor did the usual things, but I hated the X-rays because my arm was put into positions that hurt even more.  After he put the cast and sling on, however, it felt better.  It wasn’t a plaster cast; I just had a hairline fracture in my elbow.

I got back before 9pm, in time to get into a suite group-picture for the yearbook.  Daphne yelled out, “Nyssa, what happened to you?”  She and the guy at the information desk found out, and one said, “You can sue Roanoke for millions!”

So there it is, immortalized, a good picture of me because I remembered to take off my glasses, but with a sling.

The next day in Music class, Thursday the 3rd, Shawn walked in (15 minutes late) and I smiled at him, but he didn’t see my sling.

He sat down in his usual spot near me, looked at me and smiled, looked away again–then did a double take and looked at me again.

He looked me over and made a wry face, like “What happened to you??!!”

I smiled.  I took after my dad: When he came home with a broken arm one day, he snickered at Mom.

At one point, my arm swelled up because I didn’t know I was supposed to use ice and keep my arm elevated.  When Arthur and Nancy saw this, they grabbed some ice packs, and insisted I keep my arm packed with ice.  Arthur adjusted my sling so my arm pointed up like it was supposed to.

The swelling went down within probably a day or two.  Clarissa and I didn’t have an ice tray in our little fridge, so we got the ice from the kitchen.  We used a rubber ice pack, sometimes using cold water if nothing else was available.

The next year, I rented a fridge with an ice tray.  Though I never needed it, at least it was there.

I still took showers, but with difficulty.  I had to learn how to shampoo with only one hand, and wash my right arm with an arm that could barely move.  I could only wash my right hand one-handed.  Everything I used to take for granted, was now a chore.  At least it was not my dominant arm.

My contacts weren’t in, either, due to my funk over the night before, so I did not have to take them out and clean them one-handed.  (Contacts further irritate already-irritated eyes.)

I may have asked people to carry my meal trays at first, but I must have learned how to hold them myself.  At one meal, I balanced my tray so skillfully that Sharon said I would make a good waitress.

****

On Thursday, Shawn said to Pearl, “This week, I’ve been going to bed too late and getting up too early.”  Hmmm, just the same problem I had.  I wonder why….

Shawn tried to find me on Friday, but on a bad time.  Then I didn’t see him at all, except to wave at me as he passed the tray window.  I began to worry that something was wrong, but he was just swamped with homework for some time.  Considering how close it was to finals, and that he had Calculus, this was probably true.

Rachel came over on Saturday to help me carry my laundry, and told me that once, he said he didn’t like me that way, so she and some of my other friends said, “Don’t you think you’re just leading her on by always going over there?”

She said he said some nasty things about me (she didn’t say what), and they stood up for me.  It happened around the same time I got really ticked off at some things he said to me, until we talked them over and I saw he didn’t mean them the way they sounded.

I told Rachel that he isn’t so sure anymore that he doesn’t like me that way.

“He sat by me a couple of times this week,” I said–especially since Tuesday night.

“I noticed that,” she said.

See, we’d agreed weeks before that I could sit with him if I wanted, but he wouldn’t sit with me–to show other people that no, we are not going out.  He’d planned to do this if he ever got a girlfriend in college, just in case she wanted to talk girltalk about him with her friends.  So by sitting next to me at meals, he surprised both Rachel and me.

I showed her a hickey on my neck.  Her mouth fell open.

“Who?” she said.

“Shawn.”

“When?”

“Tuesday.”

“You’d better watch yourself, girl.  Don’t get yourself pregnant!–No, I’m just kidding.  No, I never noticed it.  If anyone else [in our group] had, they would’ve told everybody, and I never heard about it.”

“I covered it up and tried to hide it because I knew people would wonder, ‘Now, who in the world gave that to her?”

“That’s right, they would.”

****

On Sunday, Steve (Head Psycho) sat with us.  Get him and Demento Rachel together, and you get salt shaker wars, loudness and tug-of-war with one of Pearl’s crutches.  They flipped one salt shaker at each other by pushing two other salt and pepper shakers together at its small end.  A few times, it went as high as their heads.  We all rolled with laughter.

I joined in some of the craziness, and we made so much noise in that nearly-empty cafeteria that Shawn, Heidi and another guy kept looking at us like, “What are you guys doing?”  Once, when Heidi got up to go get something, she said to us, “A loud table!”

On Monday, December 7, I saw the school nurse.  She checked my arm and may have given me pain pills.  We talked about the incident, and she said, “Oh, yeah, the school’s gonna pay for your medical expenses.”  I even recorded this in a letter on that same day.

The cast was taken off a bit before Christmas Break.  This was my best Christmas present.  I still couldn’t do much, but I could do more than before.  I was glad to carry my tray more normally and–especially–shampoo my hair with two hands again.

My elbow was tender for some time even after the sling came off, and if the weather turned cold, my elbow hurt.  But it was set well, so within a year or two, even the cold-weather aches went away.  Today, you wouldn’t know I ever had a fracture.

I do, however, have a healthy respect for ice.  Though falls rarely hurt more than my pride and some muscles, I still wear boots for only a tiny bit of snow.  Ice frightened me for some time after the fall, even small patches.

I expected to get sick pay, since the fall wasn’t my fault; I thought everybody in every job got sick pay.  But when I asked Arthur about it, he said I’d only be paid for the hours I actually worked.

I’d have to ask my parents for money again!  Contrary to the student stereotype, I did not like asking my parents for money when I had a job, and when I called them each week it was merely to chat.  My arm needed rest all through Winterim, so that was two months without pay.

A hypnotist did a show on campus on December 8.  Actually, the students sitting onstage as volunteers did the show.

What I remember: One of the guys thought some monstrous thing made out of sausage-shaped balloons was important.  Another guy thought the microphone was the most gorgeous lady he had ever seen.  He caressed, kissed and even licked it.

Daphne, the RA of the suites, sitting in the audience, let herself go under hypnosis along with the students onstage.  (I didn’t because I wanted to watch people make fools of themselves.)  When she came out of her trance, whenever the hypnotist said a certain thing, she ran around and yelled, “The Indians are coming!  The Indians are coming!”

Afterwards, I went up to the hypnotist and asked if he knew anything about mental links.

(I saw James in line behind me, also waiting to ask him questions.  I wondered what James thought about my question about mental links: He watched me so intently that I wondered if he heard about my mental link with Peter.  In any case, Peter wanted me to stop talking about it, told Memadmin I made it up.  But he was a liar, and I did not stop talking about it.  So there!  Nyah!)

I was afraid he’d say they don’t exist, but no, he did know about them.  He said they’re rare, but do happen, and that a breakdown could be caused by a subconscious fear of it, wish for it to end, or several other things.  He said it may or may not be permanent.  If it wasn’t, I could get a professional to hypnotize me, help me find out what went wrong, and maybe set it up again.

I didn’t want to set it up again.  I had also read about them in an old book on ESP in the Roanoke library.  Now, Shawn told me it was probably all just an elaborate ruse of Peter’s.  He may have been right, but at the time I could not believe that Peter would lie to me about something like that.

One night, after a Bible study meeting in Old Main, Pearl, Sharon and I went to the head of the staircase.  I went down, But Sharon stayed up, leaning over the railing.  She said, “Do you ever feel like throwing yourself over?”

She wasn’t suicidal.  Pearl laughed and said no, but I knew exactly what she meant.

Somebody else felt that way!  Maybe I wasn’t so weird.  It wasn’t suicidal, just the thrill of danger, something you weren’t supposed to do–probably some primal urge, such as the Id.

In the midst of everything, the daily routine went on.  Our mailboxes usually held junk and campus circulars, not “real mail,” or letters from friends or family.  Catherine came up with the term “EMS,” or “Empty Mailbox Syndrome.”  But our group would send each other various holiday cards.

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:

Selective Mutism Strikes at a Zeta Party; Peter Turns the Screws–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–November 1992, Part 2

[To all who have been bullied for being shy and quiet, this one is dedicated to you.  I feel your pain.]

Selective Mutism Strikes at a Zeta Party

On November 15, the Zetas held a party in their meeting suite showing Wayne’s World.  I planned to go because I wanted to see the movie.  None of my friends could make it.  Steve was there, Shawn was there for a while, and Darryl may have come around–but most of the guys were strangers, Zetas.  I’ve never done well when surrounded by strangers.  Shyness?  NVLD?  Both?  I don’t know.

I didn’t understand why everyone liked Wayne’s World so much.  No one at the Zeta party laughed much when they did watch it.  They mostly played pool or chatted, I could barely hear the movie, and I didn’t feel comfortable.  I felt even more uncomfortable when Peter showed up.

When I saw the movie much later, with my friends, I finally understood why it was funny.

The Zeta meeting suite was in horrible shape, terribly dirty.  In the bathroom, for example, one toilet was broken and blockaded by junk, junk and dirt was all over and even in the sinks, and the other toilet’s handle didn’t even work.

How could they have a suite without a working toilet?  Didn’t they ever call maintenance?  Didn’t anyone ever try to clean the bathroom?  How could they stand this?  It was a good thing they didn’t live in the suite!

I did not expect Basic Instinct, a recent movie, to be played next.  I knew little about this movie.  One Zeta said there was a censored version–and they had the uncensored version.  Oh, joy.  The opening scene was darkness intermingled with cries of obvious sexual pleasure.

I was even more uncomfortable than I had been all evening, but when Sharon Stone’s character pulled out the ice pick, I had to at least know what was going on, how in the world she could be so cold as to kill the man she was having sex with.

The discomfort was even worse because Peter sat in a corner nearby.  I was on a couch at this time, and he was in a chair almost adjacent to mine, with maybe one or two people between us.  He seemed uncomfortable as well during all the sex scenes.  Someone teased him about being off in a corner by himself.  During this movie, Shawn arrived–a relief, with Peter there.

After this movie, to my great relief Steve suggested Princess Bride.  I chatted with Steve about it, which was such a relief.  It was good to have someone to talk to at that party besides Shawn, who didn’t stay with me for long periods.  Occasionally, Maizie would be near enough to pet.

In general, the evening was a torment.  I would have left if not for the movies.

My torment was complete when Shawn said a day or two later, “Don’t tell anyone I told you, because the Zetas would kill me.  But after you left, they sat around asking if you’d said two words to anyone all night.”

I was disgusted and hurt and embarrassed.  I didn’t even know most of them, and had cared about little but watching Wayne’s World.  And most of them didn’t talk to me, either.  Outgoing people often complain that a shy person never introduces herself to them–yet they themselves never talk to the shy person!  If it’s so hard for me and so easy for them, why do I have to do all the work?

If you ever read the book Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, Fanny Price was almost exactly like me at that time.  She tried to be good, tried to be moral, yet was so shy that she couldn’t stand to be surrounded by strangers.  She’d feel inner indignation about things that violated her idea of morality and right, yet wouldn’t often say much about it.

It seemed Jane Austen understood my type of person so completely that she could write about one without sermonizing on how this shy person should be more outgoing.  If Fanny Price were there instead of me, I believe she would have gone through the same things and emotions that I did, and that she, too, would have been talked about after she left, in a way that would embarrass her.

I was about ready to cry at the news.

How much of this was related to NVLD?  I’m not sure, but it certainly wouldn’t have helped.  It could also have been a form of selective mutism.  I didn’t want to turn into an outgoing person.  I wanted people to accept me the way I was, the way I was born.  (Because of this, I can understand the feelings of people who say they were born gay.)

Peter Turns the Screws

On November 18, Memadmin called me in because Peter told her I was spreading rumors about him.  It was all a lie.  I was not going around telling people that we were getting back together.  Why on earth would I tell people we were back together unless he came to me and said he wanted me back?

I didn’t even want that anymore, because Peter disgusted me.  I wanted Shawn, Mr. Octopus–annoys everybody–drives me crazy with analyzing–gorgeous-blue-eyed Shawn!  Peter even told Memadmin that my stories about the Mental Link were rumors, that I was making it up!

Whatever drove him to tell her this, it hurt me deeply.  Memadmin said, “I don’t believe he has the ability to hypnotize.”  But as I’ve said before, I’ve had a professional do it, so I could recognize it.

She said that Peter wasn’t accusing me of “lying,” that he said I probably believed what I was saying was the truth.  But that contradicted what she had only just said.

“Is it because I went to the Zeta party?” I said.  “I just went there to see the movie.”

“I don’t think so,” she said.  “I got the impression that his Zeta brothers have been teasing him about the Link.”

“Why didn’t he come to me and talk to me?”

“I think he’s afraid you’ll think he wants to date you again.”

Excuse me?

I figured the real reason was, he wouldn’t come up to me and tell me I was lying, when he knew I was telling the truth.  Over the past months, Peter had lied to and about me, even when he knew I knew the truth.

What could I possibly have done to make him hate me so much and tell lies about me to other people, to even try to get me in trouble with Memadmin?  And why did he act like we were friends again in September and October, greeting me kindly whenever he saw me, only to turn around and be my enemy again when I tried to be nice and show him no hard feelings through my note in October?

Two people told me that note sounded like a good idea, and there was nothing in there but an offer of future friendship, no professions of love or wanting to get back together, and I only sent it after he showed definite signs of wanting to be friends again.

How could he accuse me of spreading rumors, when I only told the truth and my future hopes for reconciliation, while he was the one spreading rumors?

Even when I dated him, I knew he often lied to people, though I never thought he’d lie to or about me.  I strongly suspect that these rumors are one reason why nobody asked me out for quite some time.  (Either that, or they figured Shawn and I were together.)

I suspect that they were spread among his fraternity brothers, his girlfriends, and anyone who would listen; who knows where they went after that.

The following year, I discovered that he had carried his rumors and warnings to a new friend, Phil, who wanted to date me–and to Phil’s mother.  Phil did not listen, but had to deflect the vicious comments made by his brother Dave O’Hara and the ignorant ones made by his mother (who kept asking if I was doing “marriage talk” yet).  Was I not allowed to date, while Peter went from one girlfriend to another?

With the way the rumor mill went at Roanoke, it’s quite possible that people had twisted things around and it got back to him like that.

But why would I say we were getting back together when he was treating me like crap, I was angry with him, and would stare him down if I saw him look my way?  Why would I say this when Shawn was the one I really wanted, when things kept getting so hot between us?  When I also had a crush on James?

I only sat next to Peter by accident, and if my friends were at the table; I didn’t go out of my way to sit near him.  Pearl had called me “obsessed” with Shawn back in September, before she knew what had really been going on between us for many months.

I no longer longed for Peter to come back to me, and at some point started fantasizing that when Shawn left Roanoke to go to Madison, we would exchange letters and one day Shawn would send me an engagement ring.

Even my friends could see that I had accepted the breakup, contrary to Peter’s belief.  As I wrote in my diary after seeing Memadmin, “I’d rather kiss a frog than go out with [Peter].  He’s scum.”

I spoke to Steve about it.  I said, “He knows [the Link] happened, I know it happened, and he knows I know it happened.”

Steve seemed more inclined to believe me than Peter, who had just gotten in trouble with the frat for some misinformation he’d given, and soon got into trouble again.  I’d already heard about this from Darryl.  I didn’t want to talk to Peter, but Steve wanted to try, himself.

This left me in a bad humor, and a sad humor.  The next evening, I went to a David Meece concert with Pearl and another friend, at a college in or by Milwaukee.  Pearl said she was going to see her “man.”

After the concert, I got a shirt and CD.  The concert was just David and his piano, no band, but that was plenty.  He sang heartfelt Christian contemporary music.  At least once, I quizzed Pearl on the music, since we were both in Music History, and he incorporated classical music into his songs.

He was stand-up comic and serious by turns, telling us his life-story, and what God wants us to do when we’re going through hard times–just the things I’d been doing, such as praying and communing with Him.

I began to get teary-eyed near the end, as things he said hit home and reminded me of Peter’s harassment.  Pearl saw that, but I think she thought it was over Meece’s own story.

Afterwards, she had to go “meet her man” and have her picture taken with him.  He put his arm around her as she stood, and he sat on the edge of the stage, the top of his head to hers.  (She was short.)  She smelled Polo cologne for the rest of the night.  She told him her plans to get him to Roanoke.

My turn came, and I said his speech had touched me.  I was shy about it, of course, but I told him I was going through hard times and I’d been doing what he’d said to do.

He asked me where I went to college–Roanoke, which was on my key ring.  I said it was by S–, and someone in the line cheered.  I gave him the travel time from Milwaukee.  He said we should get him out there, that I should come along when they pick him up at the airport, and I should tell him my story.  David Meece wanted to hear my story!  Maybe he even remembered me in prayer sometimes.

****

When Dad came to pick me up for Thanksgiving Break on Friday the 20th, I was at work, so he went to Nancy.  He was impressed when she said, “Oh, she’s one of our best workers.”

Thanksgiving Break was full of homework.  I think there was rarely a minute, other than sleeping or eating or showering or going to church, when I wasn’t doing homework.  If I took any breaks, it was to celebrate Thanksgiving, and even then I probably had a textbook with me on the couch while everyone gathered in the living room after turkey lunch.

But I also listened to B96 from Chicago, now a dance station, and made a tape of the songs.  Then I played the tape for Clarissa, who would sometimes say, “I wanna hear some techno!” so I’d play it again.

On our way back to school, my parents and I stopped for lunch in Marc’s Restaurant in S–.  There was Julie with her parents!  Julie and I laughed.

****

I got the idea of Clarissa and I enjoying books together, and since she liked the idea, began reading Clan of the Cave Bear to her at specific times each week.  But though the book was excellent for reading by yourself, for reading out loud it was a bit dull, so she asked for another book.

I chose Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, a hilarious book by Douglas Adams which I had read in high school.  She loved it.  I loved reading it out loud, and doing accents and maybe even some voices.

A current song was “Please Don’t Go” by Double You.  It was catchy, a dance song, and part of it went, “Babe, I love you so.  I want you to know that I’m gonna miss your love the minute you walk out that door.  Please don’t go.”

There was also, “Please don’t go, don’t goooooo, don’t go away.”  Sara, Tara, Carol and others in the Group liked to sing it differently: “Please don’t stay, don’t staaaaay, don’t stay here.”  And, “Babe, I hate you so.  I want you to know that I’m gonna have a party the minute you walk out that door.”

Admittedly, this was far more fun to sing than the song itself, and I could never hear the song after that without thinking of it.

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: