Month: February 2013

Why not to let your spouse tell you to stop being friends with somebody: Rethinking the Importance of Friendship vs. Erotic Love in Our Society

Let’s not think that we should jettison even our closest platonic friends if our wife/husband says so.

Let’s not think of friendship as expendable, that if we fall in love, we can let our friendships wither and die and it doesn’t matter.

Friendship is also important: You need friends, not just a lover, in your life.

Also, let’s not think that for a marriage to endure, it must be full of passionate love all the time, or else it’s time to look elsewhere.  Simon May writes in Let’s Fall in Love Like the Ancients, published in the Washington Post on 2/8/13 (no longer available on the Web):

There is no holiday celebrating friendship, but only since the mid-19th century has romance been elevated above other types of love. For most ancient Greeks, for example, friendship was every bit as passionate and valuable as romantic-sexual love. Aristotle regarded friendship as a lifetime commitment to mutual welfare, in which two people become “second selves” to each other.

In the Bible, King Saul’s son Jonathan loves David, the young warrior who slays Goliath, “as his own soul” and swears eternal friendship with him, while David says their friendship surpasses romantic love. Ruth declares her friendship for her mother-in-law, Naomi, in terms equivalent to a marriage vow: “Where you go I will go, where you lodge I will lodge. . . . Where you die I will die.”

Today, friendship has been demoted beneath the ideal of romance, but they should be on an equal footing. We tend to regard our friendships as inferior to our romances in passion, intimacy and depth of commitment.

Often they’re little more than confessionals in which we seek a sympathetic ear to help us fix–or escape–our romances. When Harry met Sally, they progressed from friends to lovers.

And on Facebook we’re all “friends” now, further downgrading the meaning of what should be a selective and multifaceted bond……

But all human love is conditional. We love others because of something, whether their beauty, goodness or power; because they belong to our families; or because they protect and nurture us.

By recognizing that all we have is conditional love, we are less likely to give up on our loved ones as quickly as we often do, less likely to be worried if we occasionally fall in and out of love with them or they with us, and less likely to scare them off by expecting their love to be of superhuman strength….

And finally, let’s release romantic and marital love from the stranglehold of sexual expectation. Sure, sex is an unsurpassed pleasure–but you can have a tremendous erotic bond with a person and have sex only infrequently….

I’m not suggesting that we revive medieval courtship, but we should think of sex as just one of the bonds and delights of erotic love, rather than as its touchstone. If sex isn’t going so well, or if desire is no longer so urgent, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we love less urgently, let alone that it’s time for a change.

These days, it’s easy to get the impression that once you get married, your spouse is supposed to be your best friend and confidant, and your family and friends are to take a backseat while you greatly reduce time spent with others outside of your home.  But this is a modern concept which actually isolates us in unhealthy ways.

As a housewife, I can tell you this is true.  I love my husband, I love my child, I’m very close to my husband, yet when I don’t have social contact outside the home, I feel just as lonely as I did as a dateless teenager.

We must make more of an effort to stay connected with friends and family, or else we could find ourselves slowly becoming suicidal.  God made us to be social creatures, spending time with people outside our homes, not hermits who consider relationships with friends and relatives to be of secondary importance.

And when a marriage ends–as every marriage inevitably does–by death or divorce, the surviving spouse will now have to pick up the pieces with a diminished social network.

Also, we don’t want to smother each other.  If spending too much time with your boyfriend or girlfriend will slowly destroy your relationship, why not the same with a marriage?

[T]he current societal expectation that a spouse can provide all the emotional sustenance a person needs is bad not just for people’s ties with community, but for marriage itself. —The Marriage Penalty by Shankar Vedantam

 

Many people believe that marriage is the fundamental building block of society, an institution that broadens social ties and ensures that individuals will not grow old in isolation.  Perhaps that was true in the past, when marriage was a central unit of economic production and political organization.

But today, despite the benefits that a good marriage delivers to the couple and their children, marriage actually tends to isolate partners from other people in ways that pose potential long-term problems both for the couple and for society as a whole. —Marriage Reduces Social Ties by Naomi Gerstel & Natalia Sarkisian

Stephanie Coontz argues in Too Close For Comfort that we have found new joys in marriage because of the changes in how we view it, but at the same time we have “neglected our other relationships, placing too many burdens on a fragile institution and making social life poorer in the process.”

In the olden days, one’s spouse was not expected to be a “soulmate” or one’s closest confidant.  It was considered “dangerously antisocial, even pathologically self-absorbed, to elevate marital affection and nuclear-family ties above commitments to neighbors, extended kin, civic duty and religion.”

Victorian society had no problem with same-sex friends showing physical affection, even sleeping in the same bed; this was not assumed to include homosexual desire or activity, as it would today.

(For an example, note that Frodo and Sam’s relationship in Lord of the Rings would have been perfectly normal and acceptable.  But these days, Youtube is full of videos poking fun at Frodo and Sam’s supposed homosexual relationship.)

By the early 20th century, though, the sea change in the culture wrought by the industrial economy had loosened social obligations to neighbors and kin, giving rise to the idea that individuals could meet their deepest needs only through romantic love, culminating in marriage.

Under the influence of Freudianism, society began to view intense same-sex ties with suspicion and people were urged to reject the emotional claims of friends and relatives who might compete with a spouse for time and affection.

In the 1950s in American middle-class suburbia, this trend reached its peak as women were told fulfillment lay in marriage and motherhood, and men were told to “let their wives take care of their social lives.”

When these suburban women began going back to work in the 60s, they realized how wonderful it was to have contact and conversation with people outside of the home again.

So why do we seem to be slipping back in this regard?  It is not because most people have voluntarily embraced nuclear-family isolation.

Indeed, the spread of “virtual” communities on the Internet speaks to a deep hunger to reach out to others.  Instead, it’s the expansion of the post-industrial economy that seems to be driving us back to a new dependence on marriage.

According to the researchers Kathleen Gerson and Jerry Jacobs, 60 percent of American married couples have both partners in the work force, up from 36 percent in 1970, and the average two-earner couple now works 82 hours a week.

The more we lose the real-life ties we used to have, the more we depend on our romantic relationships for “intimacy and deep communication”–making us “more vulnerable to isolation if a relationship breaks down.”  Sometimes, these excessive expectations actually cause the marriage to break down.

To fix this, we should “raise our expectations for, and commitment to, other relationships, especially since so many people now live so much of their lives outside marriage.”  The way to strengthen our marriages is to

restructure both work and social life so we can reach out and build ties with others, including people who are single or divorced.  That indeed would be a return to marital tradition–not the 1950s model, but the pre-20th-century model that has a much more enduring pedigree.

In How to stay married, Coontz goes on to say,

Today, we expect much more intimacy and support from our partners than in the past, but much less from everyone else. This puts a huge strain on the institution of marriage.

When a couple’s relationship is strong, a marriage can be more fulfilling than ever. But we often overload marriage by asking our partner to satisfy more needs than any one individual can possibly meet, and if our marriage falters, we have few emotional support systems to fall back on.

Without “gratification and support” from others outside the marriage, spouses have “less to offer each other and fewer ways to replenish their relationship”–and the marriage falls apart from all that weight.  Nowadays, “almost half of all Americans now say that there is just one person, or no one at all, with whom they discuss important matters.”

We commonly find warnings in popular culture against spending too much time with friends or family, against letting these ties “interfere” with time spent with the spouse.  Psychologists tell us to rebuff those who might compete with our spouse and children for our attention.  “But trying to be everything to one another is part of the problem, not part of the solution, to the tensions of modern marriage.”

I just looked over a book written by fundamentalist author Wayne Mack, Sweethearts for a Lifetime; his ideas of a successful marriage seem more like becoming clones of each other: You have to have all the same friends, do all your recreation together, learn to enjoy each other’s activities, etc.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t want to do all the things my husband does for recreation, he doesn’t like everything I like, and I don’t want to force him to be with my friends, or have him force me to be with his friends if I don’t care for them.

Also, jettisoning friends because your spouse does not want to be with that friend, sounds like betrayal of the sacred bond of friendship, and can very easily lead to one spouse controlling the other by choosing which friends to like and not like.

One passage of the book says to learn to like whatever your spouse wants to do sexually, but what if what your spouse wants is painful, degrading or disgusts you?  Another passage says to not keep secrets but consider everything to be your right to share; does that mean it’s okay to snoop through my husband’s e-mails?

I don’t want to know every intimate detail of his work; I don’t want to know all his temptations.  I want to allow him space to be his own person, and I want the same courtesy.

Men and women have different ways of perceiving things and reacting to them.  We tend to expect our spouse to be our best friend.  But that may not always happen. For the simple reason that a best friend is–usually–of the same sex as we are and has similar ways of responding. —Three common problems in a marriage

[Myth #]1. THE RIGHT PERSON WILL MEET ALL MY NEEDS.  Even if you have found your “soul mate,” one person cannot be the sole source of your need satisfaction. That’s too big a burden, and impossible besides.

Your partner is a human being, not an all-knowing, all-compassionate, love machine. You’ll need multiple sources–God, friends, a strong sense of life purpose, healthy self esteem, and a willingness to take responsibility for your own happiness. —Love Myths

This article not only describes the problems with our tendency to retreat into our own little world after a child is born, but how we can combat it and the depression it causes.

What Happened to my Friends?

Lucky is the man or woman who has a friend like Samwise Gamgee. Some of us may have a spouse who comes close. I know of no one who has a living friend, other than a spouse, like Sam.

The reason is not that such friends exist only in fiction. Aristotle identified this category of friendship in his Nicomachean Ethics.

No, the truth is that 21st century people have lost the knowledge of how to be such a friend.  Such friendships are based upon good character. Very few people have characters that merit such friendships.

Part of the stupendous power of the Tolkien myth is that the myth taps into the incredible longing everyone has for this type of friendship. Few people know the reason such friendships are impossible in today’s world. Why? Most people do not have the high moral character necessary for such friendships….

Why is The Lord of the Rings such a powerful myth? Why did the final installment earn almost half a billion dollars in its first eighteen days?

Because all of us want the fellowship illustrated in the films. Because we want relationships that last. Because we want to feel super-glued to family and friends, like the glue that bound Sam and Frodo. Because we want involvement. Because we want shared creativity and wonder, because we want loyalty and commitment.

And yet we don’t have this feeling. Oh, if we are lucky we have it in one relationship, maybe a spouse. But in general we don’t have it. In general we tend to be atoms bouncing around the eternal void, occasionally bumping into another atom, exchanging a curse or a smile.

Ought we not create our own Fellowship of The Ring? Ought we not create relationships that will last a lifetime? Ought we not build delightful things, even at some risk to ourselves? Ought we not discover something with ourselves that demands eternal loyalty and commitment?

Having identified these aching needs in ourselves, perhaps we will make a mighty effort to secure fellowship in our own lives. —Friendship and loyalty in Lord of the Rings

It takes much time and sustained commitment to arrive at the third level of close friendship. From within the casual friends, a smaller group of close friends begins to gather. In an discussion of building friendships, it should be understood that although close friendship may be your goal, that level of commitment sharing and trust is harder to achieve.

Intimate friendship is the fourth category. Friends in this category are very special and rare. At this level of sharing, intimate friends feel comfortable sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings. This type of friendship is usually marked by a deep understanding of and appreciation for the view and values of those involved.

A desire for intimate friendship is a basic human quality that calls for a giving of self to others; it can result in a lasting love relationship.  A person would be fortunate to have 5 intimate friends in a lifetime. —Friendship in the 21st Century

While it’s hardly a bad thing to be close to your spouse, we must not treat marriage as if it must fulfill all our needs for social contact and support, while all other contacts outside the home are somehow secondary or even detrimental.  To do so is to seriously weaken not only our own social ties and support, but society at large.

As the above writers argue, widening our social circle and gaining confidants outside the marriage will actually strengthen our selves, society–and our marriages.

Also see this post.

This topic leads on to my write-up on jealousy.

–First written 2008/2009, and slightly modified in the years since.

 

Index to my Life Opinion pages:

Topics on Page 1

Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go? 

Are Spiritual Marriages “real”? 

Am I supposed to spend all of my free time at home with my spouse/kids now that I’m married?  Will that strengthen my marriage–or weaken it? 

Topics on Page 2

Is it okay to be jealous of the opposite-sex friends of my spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend? 

Topics on Page 3

Abuse in all its forms: Links to help 

My Personal Stories

 

The Tea Party: a pawn for the Koch Brothers

 

Study Confirms Tea Party Was Created by Big Tobacco and Billionaire Koch Brothers

Quotes:

Finally, this report might serve as a wake-up call to some people in the Tea Party itself, who would find it a little disturbing that the “grassroots” movement they are so emotionally attached to, is in fact a pawn created by billionaires and large corporations with little interest in fighting for the rights of the common person, but instead using the common person to fight for their own unfettered profits.

Far from a genuine grassroots uprising, this astroturf effort was curated by wealthy industrialists years in advance. Many of the anti-science operatives who defended cigarettes are currently deploying their tobacco-inspired playbook internationally to evade accountability for the fossil fuel industry’s role in driving climate disruption.

The common public understanding of the origins of the Tea Party is that it is a popular grassroots uprising that began with anti-tax protests in 2009.

However, the Quarterback study reveals that in 2002, the Kochs and tobacco-backed CSE designed and made public the first Tea Party Movement website under the web address www.usteaparty.com.

The study referenced by this article is here.

Abstract

Background The Tea Party, which gained prominence in the USA in 2009, advocates limited government and low taxes. Tea Party organisations, particularly Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, oppose smoke-free laws and tobacco taxes.

Methods We used the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, the Wayback Machine, Google, LexisNexis, the Center for Media and Democracy and the Center for Responsive Politics (opensecrets.org) to examine the tobacco companies’ connections to the Tea Party.
Results Starting in the 1980s, tobacco companies worked to create the appearance of broad opposition to tobacco control policies by attempting to create a grassroots smokers’ rights movement.
Simultaneously, they funded and worked through third-party groups, such as Citizens for a Sound Economy, the predecessor of AFP and FreedomWorks, to accomplish their economic and political agenda.
There has been continuity of some key players, strategies and messages from these groups to Tea Party organisations. As of 2012, the Tea Party was beginning to spread internationally.

Conclusions Rather than being a purely grassroots movement that spontaneously developed in 2009, the Tea Party has developed over time, in part through decades of work by the tobacco industry and other corporate interests.

It is important for tobacco control advocates in the USA and internationally, to anticipate and counter Tea Party opposition to tobacco control policies and ensure that policymakers, the media and the public understand the longstanding connection between the tobacco industry, the Tea Party and its associated organisations.

Then there’s Comment on the Tea Party by Bob Altemeyer.  One quote:

Another example of Tea Partiers’ intransigence in the face of fact was illustrated by a CBS News/New York Times poll reported on February 12, 2010.

Democrats have lowered income taxes for almost all Americans, but the poll found that virtually none of the Tea Partiers realized their taxes had gone down. Instead nearly half of them thought their taxes had gone up, a mistake they made more than twice as often as the rest of the sample.

They simply believed the rhetoric of their movement more than the information on their own pay slips.

I can confirm this.  I do the finances in my house; I saw for myself that the taxes went down in 2010.  It helped a lot, as we began buying decent food again instead of cheapo poor-quality food and toiletries at the dollar and discount stores.

So when I’d hear “taxed enough already,” I’d think, “HUH?  Are you not paying attention to what’s on your pay stubs?”

No, the true “sheeple” are not the Democrats, but the ones allowing themselves to be under this mind control inspired by selfish billionaires.

More quotes:

If you read the book presented at this website, you’ll find lots of evidence that, as a group, social conservatives share the psychological trait of being authoritarian followers. And you can hardly miss the authoritarian follower tendencies in the behavior of the Tea Partiers. Here are a dozen that seem pretty obvious.

11. Ethnocentrism. Authoritarian followers are notably ethnocentric, constantly judging others and events through “Us versus Them” lenses. They largely choose their friends according to their beliefs. They stick to news outlets that tell them what they want to hear.

They live in a polarized world, divided into their in-group, and out-groups consisting of everybody else. They stress in-group loyalty, and try to keep their distance from the out-groups.

I recall thinking in 2010 that my pet stalker had stopped calling except when he wanted something.  That when he did call, he usually talked about politics.  But I wasn’t buying his Tea Party/Libertarian/Anarchist politics.

I noted on Facebook that his other friends seemed to mostly be very conservative politically.

In 2010, he (and his friend Chris) began filling his Facebook with political rants that were getting increasingly bizarre, such as saying let’s get rid of the police, or that the Pledge of Allegiance is socialist and should not be recited, or that the American flag puts us under martial law–and I was somehow “wrong”–even complained about by his radical friends–for objecting on occasion to what he posted.

Then after I found myself devalued and discarded in July 2010, I noted that the timeline of the gradual devaluing seemed to correlate with his involvement with the Tea Party.

In 2010 he even wrote that he–though a Christian who wanted to be a priest–had no problem “hating” his political opponents.  He once told me he hated Democrats.  (In 2010 he showed all sorts of signs of being a poor candidate for the priesthood, and his criminal act in September 2010 will now bar him from it.)

In the early days of trying to figure out what th’ heck just happened, I began blaming the Tea Party for taking my rational friend away and replacing him with a partisan ideologue who didn’t want to be friends with someone who had been a devoted, loyal friend, who had helped him out time and again in rough circumstances, but who did not like the Tea Party.

And this I’ve certainly noted with those ridiculous claims of Obama being a socialist/dictator/worst president ever (no, that’s Bush)/taking our freedoms away (Bush again)/etc.:

5. A lack of critical thinking. Authoritarian followers have more trouble thinking logically than most people do. In particular, they tend to agree with sayings and slogans, even contradictory ones, because they have heard them a lot.

Thus Tea Partiers reflexively, patriotically thump that the United States is the best country on earth, but as well that it is now an Obama dictatorship.

They also have extra trouble applying logic to false reasoning when they like the conclusion. A ready example can be found in Tea Partiers’ assertion that Obama is a socialist. They have heard this over and over again from Rush Limbaugh, etcetera, and “so it must be true.”

But Obama has never advocated state ownership of an industry. He certainly did not advocate state ownership of health insurance, and eventually even backed away from the “public option” (that most Americans wanted) which would have let the government as well as private companies offer health insurance.

Charlie Peacock Concert; Random Stories–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–September 1993, Part 5

Charlie Peacock Concert

On September 19, Pearl and I went to the S– Evangelical Free Church.  Tara P., a member of the women’s volleyball team, was our driver.  She was a member of the church, and very tall and friendly, with dark hair.

I loved the church, which was big, had beliefs much like my own, and was very lively.  Everyone seemed cheerful and friendly and excited about God.

When filling out my gold registration card one Sunday, I asked for information about the church; this I received in the mail in October, and after reading it through, I decided it was much like my own church in both structure and theology.

I felt I had found my church home for S–, now that there was no longer a Nazarene church.

Sunday School was at 9:30am, and church at 10:45.  There were two services, one at 8:15, but the 10:45 one was packed.

As for Sunday School, this was a college class and had three other students.  Everyone there was friendly.  One was a blond named John, and the others were two young women.

One kept talking to John in such a way that you could tell she liked him.  John was cute, so I asked Tara about them later; she said they weren’t dating but the girl wanted to.

IV planned to go to a Charlie Peacock concert, and taped a flyer about it to the top of the information desk in the Campus Center, such as people often did with flyers.  Next to it was a sign-up sheet.

Some Sigma frat brats, however, got together and wrote derogatory comments about Peacock’s last name.  I had never, ever thought of his name that way before; I always thought of it as referring to the bird with the beautiful, colorful tail, not to a certain four-letter-word.

These frat boys wrote their names in the sign-up list, making us think a bunch of people were coming to the concert, then erased them or crossed them out.  We were incensed at their rudeness and their feeble, immature attempts at humor.  Pearl said they were doing themselves a disservice because “Charlie Peacock is really talented.”

Pearl and I and maybe one or two others went to the concert.  A woman in her thirties or forties drove us there in her van.

Elmbrook was a gigantic church in Brookfield (now we call it a mega-church) with a sanctuary/auditorium that seated the whole church, which I believe held about 5,000 people.  Pearl’s aunt went there, and kept longing to go out with one of the many Christian men she always saw there.  This church was a popular place for Christian bands and singers to perform.

Peacock sat on the stage at a grand piano and played.  He sang “Dear Friend,” to the delight of both Pearl and me.  He told us about his life, and that this was going to be his last performance: he wanted to spend more time with his family.  Though understandable, this depressed Pearl and me.  However, it wasn’t so bad after all, because he released more albums after this.

I wanted to meet Peacock afterwards, but he disappeared, and all we could find was his opening act, Out of the Grey.  I’d bought this couple’s Shape of Grace CD over the summer.

The husband, Scott Dente, was wonderfully cute, with dark hair and a long nose.  The wife, Christine, was beautiful, too, but Pearl and I didn’t want to look at her.  (You can see them here.)

During their act, Scott joked about being overshadowed by Peacock on the tour.  When we found them in the sanctuary, I had just bought Peacock’s CD Lie Down in the Grass in the big foyer.

I don’t remember if Christine was there, but Scott was with some other people.  All I had to give him to autograph were the liner notes from Peacock’s CD.  He said, “Oh, no, not HIM!”  He wrote his initials and drew a little guitar.

I played this CD over and over again the next few weeks, loving its sound.  It was strange, with a unique sound I’d never heard anywhere before, and fun to listen to.  “Human Condition” was one of my favorite songs.

On the way home from the concert, the Michael W. Smith song “Friends” played on the van’s tape deck.  I listened to the words and thought of Shawn.  A tear or two escaped my eyes.  Some of the words to this song are,

Friends are friends forever if the Lord is Lord of them, and a friend will not say never ’cause the welcome will not end.  Though it’s hard to let you go, in the Father’s hands we know that a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.

I kept thinking of Shawn, and how our friendship had fallen apart.  He hadn’t called me after Cindy gave him my number.

Random Stories

I received an invitation to have dinner in Bossard with Miriam Gilbert and David Janoviak.  Only certain students were invited: I think it was for Writing majors and probably English or Theater majors.  Or it may have been for Honors CORE students; I really don’t remember.  In any case, the partitions were put up so that we were in a small area near the Muskie and the doors to the stairs.

My fiction teacher was also there.  She and, I believe, Gilbert talked on and on about the 60s, and what we students had missed by not being born in time to experience 1969.

I wasn’t sure what had happened in 1969, but I didn’t think I’d missed all that much.  I saw the 60s as an unstable time with revolts against things that didn’t deserve a revolt, such as the church and moral values.  Its drugs and free love were destructive.

I preferred to live in a time when my campus wouldn’t be overrun by protests or snipers or people who wanted to blow up campus buildings.  (High school teachers had told us how bad things got even in South Bend schools.)  Though everyone called my campus apathetic, I found it peaceful and pleasant.

Janoviak was a directing actor, had recently played Hamlet in a critically acclaimed performance, and was a former Roanoke student.  I knew about his accomplishments because Counselor Dude had posted an article about him on his door.  Gilbert was an English professor at the University of Iowa.

The next morning at 10:30am, they held a lecture on Hamlet.  Gilbert acted as a director, and told Janoviak how she wanted him to perform the “To be or not to be” speech.  She would tell him to play it pensively, comically, or with emphasis on this or that, and he would do it.

I noted that, depending on what emphasis you gave it, the same speech could have profoundly different meanings each time you said it.

I thought the presentation was fascinating, and wrote in my day planner, “’twas cool!”  Many students, however, couldn’t hear it, so they thought it was awful.  The bad acoustics in the Bradley auditorium were well known; I sat in one of the front rows, and could hear everything.  I figured if these kids had heard what was said, they would have been just as entranced as I was.

****

The ice cream selection that year was disappointing.  It still had some of the good flavors, but not as many and not as often.

That year or the year before, guys began wearing their baseball caps backwards.  The Group hated it.  We didn’t mind so much if the cap was worn properly, but backwards was just awful.

Around this time, if one of us was accused of lust, we would say, “It’s not lust!  I’m enjoying his beauty.”

Whiteheart‘s album Highlands came out around this time.  I had a bunch of coupons, which came with any Christian album I bought; there were enough to get Highlands for free as a cassette tape.  I didn’t know the songs and had no memories, familiarity, or nostalgia attached to them yet.  But in time, I would.  It had an excellent mix of rock and Celtic themes.  This is significant later.

****

On a day in early fall, perhaps in September or October, the weather had been cool, but then we had the last eighty-degree day of the year.  So I wandered around the woods.  It may have been my first time back there since Peter had broken up with me.  Until senior year, I would only go back there occasionally.

On this particular day, I watched black water bugs play on the surface of the lake, I think I saw a bunny or two, and I know I saw the cutest baby frogs.  I believe I got a little lost.  By the time I got back to the Campus Center, it was after my usual dinnertime of 5 o’clock.

I tried a new thing that evening: a chicken soft shell taco from the taco bar (which was sometimes there instead of the deli bar) and guacamole.  (The deli and taco bars were started before or during February 1992 because of student requests, and gave an alternative to whatever lunch or dinner choices were in the regular line.  They were also meant to shorten the regular line.)

I never found the guacamole there again, but I thought it was delicious on a chicken burrito.  Since I couldn’t find guacamole again, I learned that sour cream sauce was also delicious.

After that, I often went to get a chicken burrito or soft shell taco with chicken.  Since my dad couldn’t eat Mexican food, and I knew very little about it besides what I had in school lunches, I had no idea that you could get chicken burritos or soft shell tacos.  All I ever knew was beef with too many spices.

****

One night, the Phi-Delts had a party in the Pub.  Sharon played pool in a kind of tournament, and Pearl and I watched her.

As she played, a drunk, tall guy, Asian or Hispanic, came over and began talking to us.  He must have been older than college-age.  He kept hitting on Sharon and me.  Neither of us liked him because he was drunk, smoking and kind of scary.  Fortunately, his sober brother watched over him.

****

IV Bible Study/Small Group schedules: Daniel: Astrid in her room on Mondays at 8; Exploring the Gospels: Sharon in her room on Wednesdays at 8; Job: Pearl on Wednesdays at 9.

I don’t remember much about the other Bible studies, so maybe I didn’t go to those, but I do remember Astrid’s.  Only Clarissa and I went, but we loved it.  I would grab a piece of Werther’s butter candy as Clarissa and I went all the way up the back stairs to the third floor and Astrid’s room.

Astrid was UCC, but conservative.  Sometimes, her roommate Chloe sat nearby, doing homework.  We read the chapters out loud and talked about them, then Astrid led us in a short prayer.

We loved the many and repetitious verses detailing all the different officials and different instruments played at celebrations: They were fun to read out loud.  Outside of the Bible study, this would become our inside joke.  Here’s an example:

And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up (Daniel 3:2, NKJV).

These officials are repeated in verse 3.  Verse 5 reads:

[T]hat at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.

These instruments are repeated in verse 7.

****

One day, the obscene phone caller struck again.  Now that Clarissa and I lived in Krueger, his favorite spot, we got a call from him one day.  I don’t remember much about it, just that I answered, told him very little, and hung up quickly.

One day, probably during bingo in Bossard, a girl we knew named Mona V. sat with us.  She started throwing food around, probably those dry Cheerios which were put in bowls and supposed to be used for bingo chips.

One struck Frank right on his ever-bigger bald spot.  Embarrassed, she didn’t want him to know she did it.  She and my friends disliked him because he was a bit of a pervert, cracking crass sex jokes all the time.

As for my friend Mona S., who started a prayer group with me freshman year, she dropped out of school early sophomore year.  But we kept in contact by letter.

Kids in the Hall, a Canadian comedy troupe, now provided the Group with another catchphrase: You shut one eye, look at somebody, frame her head with your index finger and thumb, start squeezing your fingers together, and say, “I’m crushing your head!”

Whenever I felt bored at meals and had drained most of my Mountain Dew, I poured a bit of salt into my cup and watch it fizz up.

Carol called Astrid “Boing-Boing” because she was bouncy like Tigger.

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:

 

Deceived: About Toxic “Best” Friends

You don’t know what it is to be me
I was lied to and flat deceived
One more time
Twist the knife in my back
I don’t need no friends like that

You give me your word that you’d
Always be my true friend
Now that you’re gone I can go on with
My life again

–From “Deceived” by Klank:

This whole album is awesome.  I listened to it, especially this song, all the time in the first year after the breakup from my “best” friend.  Buy here.  (Amazon tells me I bought it on December 26, 2002.  What staying power!  🙂  )

Seeing Abuser is Rough for Abuse Victims, Especially When Abusers & Enablers Blame the Victim: Annie’s Mailbox

 

From No Gifts From Her Abuser, 2/10/13:

Dear Annie: I am 39 years old. For the past 20 years, I have had ongoing therapy to recover from the sexual abuse I suffered as a child. My abuser was my half-brother.

When I finally said something at the age of 13, my family did not believe or support me. Since then, family gatherings have been especially difficult because my family expects me to attend when my abuser is present.

I can’t even tell you how difficult it is to be around him. The flashbacks are unbearable. Five years ago, with the support of my counselor, I decided I didn’t need to subject myself to that kind of torture and stopped going to these family functions.

The problem now is that no one mentions the abuse, especially to his wife and two daughters.

His wife, who is clueless, sends me Christmas and birthday presents, which makes me extremely uncomfortable, especially when I see his name on the card.

Is it OK for me to ask her to stop? I don’t want to insert myself into their lives or cause problems, but I can’t deal with this. — Still Healing

Comment #3, from Shasta:

You should inform her right away about what was done to you and then stay clear of that family from this point on.

People who protect, defend, ignore, or (God forbid) blame the victim are just as bad as the abuser themselves. They are justifying evil, which makes them evil too.

Also see It’s Perfectly Normal to Dread Seeing Abusers Again, Fighting the Darkness: Seeing the abuser again, Needing to Feel Safe: Going to same church as abusers, and Fighting the Darkness: Mutual Friends.