Sexual Relations with Shawn: The Downward Spiral to a Crash 

I discovered in February that the leader of our S– Nazarene church wasn’t actually a pastor.  He and his wife had full-time jobs, so trying to run the church was getting too taxing.  They closed the metaphorical doors of that church, so that was the end of my churchgoing for a while.

****

Around this time, Shawn asked for a wakeup call.  So I said, “This is your wake-up call, Shawn.  Do not, I repeat, do not roll over and go back to sleep, or you will die a horrible death, suspended by a string and by your fingernails over a pool of piranhas.–And with your weight, the string will immediately break.”

…So he rolled over and went back to sleep.  When I found out, I told him, “You know what I’m going to have to do to you now.”  As he talked with Frank, I said to Shawn, “I guess I’ll have to take you down to the lagoon–as soon as I get a string and some piranhas.”  He smiled, and Frank cracked up.

****

On the late night of the 6th, Shawn called me over to watch TV.  We played with each other for a while, then were enflamed with passion and did all sorts of things we shouldn’t have, oughtn’t have done.

In fact, when I read what had been going through our heads for the past several weeks, and what all we did do, which did qualify as sexual relations, what astounds me is what we didn’t do that night: go all the way.  I’m sure that one word from me, and it would have been done.

And our lives could have been irrevocably changed.  According to my calendar, I was probably not fertile, but–Pregnancy, change in life plans, married to someone who wanted to change everything about me, him dealing with this and his brother’s illness/eventual death at the same time….

Or if not pregnancy, then would he have hated me afterwards?  Or would he have fallen for me?  Who knows.  But if nothing else changed, then the end of the year still would have been that much harder to deal with.  And, as you will see, it already became excruciatingly painful to part because of the things we did do, because of the contempt he felt for me because of them.

Eventually we fell asleep in each other’s arms, and it was sweet.  But then he woke up around 5am, got angry with me for still being there, and unceremoniously tossed me out into the cold.  I hoped he was just cranky from being tired.

There was no “talk” afterwards this time, however.  In the days following, there was none of the usual tenseness when we saw each other around campus.

I felt good when he looked at me–which he did a lot–and his eyes showed so much tenderness, and some kind of love, though I wasn’t sure what kind.  Then on the 8th, we sat across from each other in Bible Study.  Not what you usually expect to be between two people sitting in Bible study….

Even Clarissa noticed something different about him.  He seemed happy and hyper when in my view, but Clarissa saw him walking with his head down a little.  She thought she saw something there that she didn’t see before.

He sat at my table a lot and also gave me little things, like red-hot candies or a certain picture.  I thought that, for sure, he must be in love with me now.

On Valentine’s Day, we were together in his room.  As we made out I thought he really meant it this time, that we were finally a “couple.”  But then, while I was still basking in the glow of my happiness, he told me he wasn’t attracted to me and I wasn’t what he was looking for, though he didn’t know what that was.  (Flashback to Ned and Catherine!)

This got me so upset that I decided to start seeing the campus counselor, someone older whom I could talk to.

Monday of the next week was intense.  The thing I did not want him to do to me during the scary scold session in January, he did now, suddenly and forcefully from what I recall, taking away my innocence and filling me with thoughts I could barely control.

(Not what is clinically called “coitus,” but another thing which I do not want to name on the Internet.)  And even though he himself had similar thoughts and told me about them, he judged me for mine when I confessed them to him.

My diary entries for late February and mid-March show that I felt as if demons had taken hold of my thoughts.  After Bible study one night, I confessed them to Pearl.  We prayed about it, and I confessed my thoughts to Shawn.  As if I’d snapped my fingers, the darkness flew away.

But this was the last time Shawn and I did anything physical for a while, to help me get those thoughts out of my head.  Sometimes we did spend time together and talk on the phone, but he started sitting elsewhere at meals.

People got mad at him for not being nice to me, but I didn’t agree and was indignant at them (probably Stockholm Syndrome).  He didn’t understand why they thought that.  For example, one of my friends was mad at him, and he complained to me about it.  I referred to this at a meal one day, so she got mad at him again for not keeping her opinion between them.

Counseling

I first met with the school counselor on February 23.

After Shawn had pulled so much crap with me over the past few months, as a sexual user:

He played with my head and my body,

took my innocence and led me into sexual experiences that I should not have done and convinced me they were not sinful and then spoke to me like I was a slut,

asked or begged me to do things that were consensual and enjoyable but then scolded me for doing them and made me feel like he was just doing it to humor me,

insisted or even coerced me into some things so I had to stop him or felt I could not stop him,

wanted to coerce me into more,

lusted after me and said he had fantasies about me yet told me he was not attracted to me,

led me on and tore me down over and over again–

So I became a wreck, and decided that only a counselor could help me get my life back together now.

Things he had said about me, and things he would say later on (in March, which I address in this paragraph, too), haunted me for years, even though all my friends and my counselor assured me they were not true.

I could not understand why he would accuse me of them.  They became some of the main bases for me to consider NVLD as a possibility, because those very things were listed as signs and misunderstandings of people with NVLD.

Such as, people with NVLD/Asperger’s are very concerned with accuracy, which sometimes exasperates others, makes them think we have to be right, when no, we just want to be helpful and keep you out of error.

We don’t understand why this upsets others, and become mystified when they get angry and accuse us of having to be right.  We think, Don’t you want to be accurate?

It’s also an introvert thing, since I have to think before I speak, and oftentimes need far more time to prepare a response than I get.  So I’ll think of something later on and say it.

To me this is perfectly valid, but apparently extroverts get annoyed by it at times.  But extroverts need to deal with it, because otherwise we introverts aren’t capable of giving them the responses and ideas they want.

It was one of the many things Shawn said he hated, that I took too long to respond to his questions.  But this was nothing I could help, and he needed to be more accommodating and patient.

Or, as Pearl did say, the time I didn’t ask Sharon how she was doing after her cousin died, but this was not because I didn’t care or was selfish (I did very much care about my friends and how they were feeling), but because I missed the social cues and did not realize I was supposed to say anything.  Until Pearl said something, I had no clue I had even offended Sharon!

I tried so hard to be nice and sweet to people, but again and again I’d be misunderstood and accused of things that were not in my mind; Shawn did plenty of this.  NVLD/Asperger’s explains why on earth people would think such things of me, and also why I had so much trouble understanding these social cues that others know instinctively.

The constant criticisms from Shawn haunted me years later when another best friend, Richard, did the same thing to me, telling me everything I did was wrong in some way, from what food I ate to how I socialized.

And I would have no way of knowing for sure if I was really as bad as these critics made me sound, or if there was something in them that made them find fault in others to an excessive, abusive degree.

Starting in January 1993, as I have shown, and continuing through May 1993, as I will show, I witnessed various outbursts from Shawn which scared or upset me greatly.  He increasingly said hurtful things.

I also noted during that time that he even criticized how I kissed him (while Peter said I was a great kisser, an expert, told Phil this, and Phil agreed); I wrote that if he didn’t like it, then teach me how to do it better, don’t cut me down.

There were also things related to his Winterim class which were serious and which I have not described, that caused him stress.

It’s also very possible that his brother’s health was deteriorating.  Could Shawn have been heading to another nervous breakdown and taking me along with his precarious mental state?

It was possible, especially with what happened in May 1993, and how it affected him.  But I had no way of knowing with my limited knowledge, could only think he was doing these things on purpose to hurt me.

I see from my day planner that I planned to ask the counselor the question, What in the world is making me depressed all the time?!  Shawn might say I wanted to be, but no, it was because of what was going on in my life freshman and sophomore year.

I had six counseling sessions free before my parents would have to pay for it, so I decided to take advantage of this.  It seems we only had 20 minutes to talk on the 23rd, but she called me that night to talk some more.

The first little session took care of things like insurance and stuff, and didn’t get into what I really wanted to talk about.  So on the phone, I told her my problems: the Shawn situation, as I called it, and the Peter situation.

She asked how often I thought of Peter still, and I said at least once a day.  She said that was a lot and we’d have to talk about that, too–but I neglected to say that I thought about him that often because I was praying for him every night.  These prayers were for his soul, not for our old relationship.

The counselor kept talking about shyness and how to break free of it, but this wasn’t my problem.  I kept trying to get the discussion back to the situation with Shawn.

All sorts of Christian denominations, from Orthodoxy to Baptist, say that Christians should only marry Christians.  Youth advisers naturally extended that to serious dating, and sometimes even casual dating.  The counselor said that part of my problem may have been that I didn’t have much of a pool to choose from (something I, ironically, had tried to avoid by going to a Christian college).

She didn’t suggest I change my beliefs; rather, she looked through the phone book and suggested some churches I could try going to.  However, they sounded very different from my own church, such as Baptist and Dutch Reformed.  S– doesn’t have a huge variety of churches, such as you might find in South Bend.

Though at times I wondered if they helped at all, in the end (April 6) I decided these counseling sessions had done me a world of good.  More on this later.

****

One day, I told Shawn that Peter never said anything to me, not even hi.

Shawn said, “Maybe he’s waiting for you to say it.”

That shocked me, since I had tried to start up a friendship with Peter a couple of times already, only to be spurned.  But I tried it anyway.

On the 19th, I saw us about to pass each other outside.  I didn’t know if I could do it, if he’d hear me, or if he’d even answer, but I looked back as we passed, and said hi.

For a moment I expected nothing, but then I heard, “Hi.”  Another time, he even said, “Hey, how ya doin’?”

****

On snow days (and on days when the water went out), paper cups, bowls, plates and utensils were used.  The RA’s helped in Food Service because the cooks and other non-student workers couldn’t make it to the campus.

On one snow day, Rachel helped us clean up in Food Service.  She stood next to me and said,

“Some people think you’ve gained some weight, but I don’t think so.”

“Nope,” I said, tugging on the leg of my pants.  I had been wearing them since I came to Roanoke; they now billowed around me.  Roanoke had made me 120 pounds, the perfect weight for a small-boned woman of barely 5’5.

I had no idea Rachel was testing me out.  I later discovered that, because I wrote a poem about a pregnant girl and usually wrote about my own life, people thought I was pregnant by Shawn.

Despite the things we did do, Shawn and I had done nothing to cause pregnancy, so it was funny.  And here I’d been afraid people would think my poem was about another girl on campus, who really was pregnant.

****

A Zulu dance group, Shikisha, performed in the Bradley in February.  They did African dances and original songs.  The first hour was just Shikisha (3 women) and their male drummer.

After the intermission, a rock band, with black members from such places as France, the U.S. and Nigeria, joined them, and we got a rock concert for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

I got so caught up in it that I felt sorry for people who didn’t come, and I had to get a tape of them.  I kept thinking of the PBS miniseries Shaka Zulu, especially with the way they were dressed.

Afterwards, I found Anna, Latosha and an exchange student from Nigeria.  Latosha wanted a tape for, as she called it, “my kid.”  That’s when Latosha told me she was pregnant by E—, the guy who had caused her so much grief freshman year.  I said I wanted a tape, but they’d already cleared them away.

Latosha said, “We can go backstage and get one.”

She led us back, and we got to meet all the performers–once they were dressed in normal clothes.  I got a tape, and the drummer said, “Don’t you want any more, for your family?”

“I can’t afford it,” I said.

“She can dub it,” Latosha said.

“Ohhh!” he said.

We met the three dancers a few minutes later, and they autographed our tapes.  We talked with them for a while, and found out the youngest one, who looked 12, was 19.

One dancer had a shirt in the first act that was cut differently from those of the other dancers; it kept slipping dangerously during the dances.  (They dressed in traditional Zulu clothes, so she didn’t wear a bra.)  Anna or Latosha said she was quick about pushing it back up.

The oldest dancer had long hair, maybe waist-length, put in tiny braids.  The youngest one asked for our names and made a little song out of them.

****

On the 27th, Shawn and I visited a student from Cambodia, S–, to play with his Sega.  Shawn and I beat up street thugs for a while, then S– and I watched Shawn get beat up by a gorilla in “Spiderman.”  Shawn insisted he used to be good at it.

Then he showed me Sonic The Hedgehog 2.  I did terribly at it, during a race against Shawn, since I had never played the game before.  “Two-year-olds play this better than you!” he said.  (I was playing with dolls at two.)

But, hey, I’ve never been adept at video games.  I think the whole coordination thing gets me, probably because of NVLD.

So obviously Shawn and I were still hanging out from time to time, still friends, despite everything.  I also wrote a long list of things to talk to him about, probably to do what we originally were going to do–back away from the physical and learn more about each other as people, not lovers.

****

Sometime that semester, the women of the campus were shaken up by stories of a rapist loose in S–.  Cindy said her mom saw him in the laundromat late one night, that he knew her and was after her for some reason.  I think he had kind of a Hitler-look, maybe with his hair.

There were rumors of him being spotted on campus, based on people seeing a guy who looked like him but was just some innocent husband of a non-trad.  He never actually did step foot on our campus, as far as we knew.

But the fear of him inspired warnings that we women shouldn’t go anywhere alone at night, and I would have Clarissa go with me just to do my laundry at night.

This may have been when the dorms were now locked up at all times, accessible only by key, meaning that I could no longer go from the suites to Krueger’s side door to get snacks or see people whenever I wanted to.

Mom had always worried that I would get raped at college, so I never did tell her about this rapist.  I told Dad, but with strict orders not to tell Mom or else she would be a nervous wreck.

I found a rapist warning in the school paper for April 30, and I don’t believe I found one any earlier.  But I keep thinking it was in February.  The May 7 paper explains that a “suspect,” though heavier and with glasses, in the rape cases was confronted in the Roanoke College library on May 5; this is probably the guy who was just somebody’s innocent husband.

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: