Narcissists/Abusers: Will they be the same with somebody else, or is it just me?

From what I’ve experienced and researched, it’s extremely common to get out of an abusive relationship of some kind (any kind of abuse, and any kind of relationship), and feel like you’re the crazy one.  “Is it all just me?”  “Will the next girlfriend get the nice version of him, and prove me to be the nutty one?”

But here is my experience with ex-boyfriends:

Peter made me believe he was the One, that he was just like me, that we had a psychic link proving we were meant for each other.  After he broke up with me, he began spreading lies about me, changed into a completely different person (mean, smoking, underage drinking, doing weed, cussing), then had a string of girlfriends after me.

I didn’t know them personally, or what happened, but one day, a girl working in the cafeteria told me he had broken up with her, too, so we both had something to be mad at him for.  At that point I had moved on and didn’t want to talk about such things, but still, there was another one.

Then senior year, when my roommates got a modem and we began going on local BBS’s, a couple of guys on one BBS told me Peter had been preying upon the girls there.  He’d get them to believe he was the man of their dreams, but it wasn’t true.  They had no idea I had dated him freshman year.  All this is in my college memoirs.

Phil, who emotionally and sexually abused me, had another girlfriend after me whom I knew.  I found out, through her, that he was exactly the same with her as with me, and even slapped her one day.  His depths of immaturity went even further with her than with me.  When she finally broke up with him for good after a string of short-lived breakups, her friends practically threw other guys at her.

I found out through my other friends that his girlfriend after that, after I graduated, was treated the same way.  They had to get married because he got her pregnant; they divorced several years ago.

As for my recent experience with abusive friends:

Richard, the narcissist fake friend who used and manipulated me, did the same thing to his friend Todd that he did to me.  He also choked his 9-year-old daughter, resulting in probation.  I also know, from Richard’s own admission, that he abused an ex (psychologically, I believe) as punishment for her cheating on him.

He even sent an e-mail threatening physical violence to my husband, which you can find posted here.  He also told me once that he used to be a Mafia thug, and that he planned to assault (it sounded like kill) the lady who just evicted him.  (His wife wouldn’t let him.)

But I bet the people still on his Facebook friends list think he’s a great guy with a “big heart,” as two people have described him.  However, not everyone is fooled, as I know from the enemies he has also made on forums–ones who said, for example, that he was a narcissist, or (to Todd), “He always was an a**hole, but you were his friend and didn’t notice.”

His wife Tracy, who abused him and her kids, bullied and psychologically abused me, then later terrorized me by stalking me online and off when I told what happened.  She pulled a lot of the same crap with Todd as well.

Also, she has so ticked off Richard’s friends over the years that many have told him, “Sorry, but we can’t be friends with you anymore, because we can’t take Tracy anymore.”  Richard TOLD me this with Tracy right there, so I know it to be true.

When I accidentally come across something online which presents her “religious woman, pillar of the community, smart and successful” persona, this is so entirely different from the Tracy I knew (or that Todd knew) that I start to feel like the crazy one.  Her e-mails to me sure didn’t help, as they blamed me for everything and treated me like sh**.

It also doesn’t help when I come across something which makes it look like they both cared so little for me that they just moved on with their lives after we broke off relations with them, without bothering to make things right, without caring about us at all, without grieving our loss.

But then, I remember–since we had mutual friends on Facebook and she wasn’t blocked at that time–her commenting “lol” on a friend’s post in the few days right after Richard had been to the court, got his mugshot taken, and started the course of getting convicted of choking her daughter.

So I have seen firsthand how her public persona does not reflect her real life.  And I also noticed another mutual friend’s profile showed absolutely no sign of knowing that Richard had been convicted of choking his daughter, even though they were close friends.

The community persona she presents, is not the real her.  I’ve seen the real her, nasty, abusive and lazy.  So has Todd.  So have others.

I can tick off on my fingers the people whom I know she has ticked off so badly that they broke off relations with Richard, too (since she forces his friends to be friends with her, too): Todd.

A woman whom Richard was good friends with, also a popular forum moderator.

Another of his female friends, with whom Tracy was “at war,” and this was AT CHURCH; the friend told Richard that Tracy was going to cause him trouble; Tracy later hit the roof when she discovered Richard phoned her while he lived with my husband and me.

Then there are others I have seen her go off on, online.  That included a girl who made the same mistake Tracy did at 19, but Tracy ripped her apart for it.  I also know that Richard’s family would scold Tracy for being mean to him/the children, and that she complained his family treated her like a child.

She got upset with Richard for not sticking up for her when they said she was mean to him, even though she had indeed been mean to him.  Oh, yeah, and don’t forget the ex, at whom Tracy would scream obscenities over the phone (they shared a child and still had to contact each other).

That persona your narcissist/abuser presents to other people, that sweet, nice, wonderful person who couldn’t possibly abuse anyone, so you must be lying?  That is not the real narc.

You’ve SEEN the real narc.  You’ve had the–as Shrink4Men so delicately puts it–WTF moment, when the narc’s mask came off.  What the narc shows to everyone else, is the same mask she showed to you, pulling you in.  It isn’t real.

Remember that next time you start missing the narc and thinking it was all your problem.  Next time you start wondering, Is he treating her better than he treated me?  Even if he’s treating her well right now, the mask will come off eventually with her, just as it did with you.

Narcs can have the ability to fool an entire community or church for years; this is why it’s often hard for their victims to come forward.  If they do, nobody believes them, and the narc paints them as crazy.  But the victims have seen the real narc.  Some of those people the narc has fooled, will one day be their victims, and think again about what you said.

Narcissists often display a façade self based on impressive and admirable traits. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, if it weren’t mere window dressing. Their façade self is fake, covering up a real self that’s insecure and vulnerable…..

  • Narcissists are great masters of disguise, describing their behavior in the best of terms, (i.e. I’m only doing it for you!) Hence, it may take awhile for you to ‘get’ what’s really going on.
  • Though narcissism has a bad rep (egocentric, egotistical), narcissists also have positive traits. Indeed, they may be quite charismatic and charming. Hence, it may be hard to believe that narcissism is driving their behavior. –Linda Sapadin, PhD, How to Live With a Narcissist

 

 

Is he/she really a narc? If you were idealized, devalued and then discarded, just say yes, he is and be FAIR TO YOURSELF.

If he/she isn’t a narc, by the time that conclusion is drawn with clarity from enough distance through NC, you will have moved on from the encompassing toxicity of a dysfunctional relationship – regardless of what labeling helped you to be able to do that.

Allow yourself to heal. Doubt only holds you back and keeps you holding onto a fantasy of what you wanted it to be and are now afraid to let go of, instead of embracing reality and the emotional freedom that acceptance of truth brings. –Lisa E. Scott, Who Really Benefits from Doubt? (read the whole thing–excellent help!)

 

7 Years of Orthodoxy; struggles in continuing; should I stay Orthodox?

I just realized it’s been 7 years already since I started attending the local Orthodox church and began the process of conversion.  Wasn’t it just last year?  My story is here.  Sadly, Richard is the guy who led me to Orthodoxy in the first place, as described in my story.

I sometimes wonder if I would’ve stayed Presbyterian if not for him; most likely.  I had only just discovered that it was okay in the PCUSA to believe in universalism, and there was much freedom of thought in other matters as well.  But I wanted to find out what the ancient Church believed about everything, because the different doctrines in Christendom were so confusing.

I’ve been going through a crisis of faith for some time, as described here, here and here.  I’ve also heard on Orthodox forums (often populated with converts) of falling away after about five years, when the convertitis wears off and you start to lose your fervor.

It took me a whole summer of research to decide to try out the Orthodox church, and another two years in the process of converting, before finally joining.  And I kept always reading, reading, reading, to find out if Orthodoxy was correct.  I have an entire box full of Internet printouts.

So this was not taken at all lightly, or done quickly.  I’ve also experienced so much richness: in the liturgy, the fasts, the Lenten and Holy Week services, the theology, the spirituality, even the Greek Fests which have nothing to do with Orthodoxy.

Maybe the doldrums are simply because of my conversion’s connection to Richard, and the doubt of God’s existence that came out of that.

Maybe it’s the same disillusionment that led me out of evangelicalism to Presbyterianism: the people who make it seem like you can’t truly be Christian unless you’re a Republican, believe gay marriage is an abomination, and put so many limitations on who can do what in the church.

I hated the legalism of so many fundamentalist Protestant churches: head coverings, no long hair on the men, no pants or short hair on the women, no rock music–But in Orthodoxy (not my own church, but many others) are people who insist on head coverings, beards on the men, women not reading the Epistle, getting rid of organs/pews/ecumenism because they’re “Western innovations.”

I did NOT become Orthodox to become more fundamentalist.  I LIKED women preachers.  But I did not like the milquetoast worship that evangelicalism had turned to, or the doctrine that all non-Christians are destined for Hell even if they have good reasons for not converting.

But after becoming Orthodox, I lost my taste for all the other churches.  There is a richness of theology and practice here which has been lost elsewhere.  Sure I sometimes miss listening to a long sermon by a skilled preacher.  But the focus of the homilies, at least at my church, is not on the preacher’s diction, skits, or bullet points; the focus is on the teachings of the church and living out Christianity in the world.

Also, I must remember that when I first “met” Richard online, he was himself a new convert of only a year or two.  When he and I were able to finally meet in person, we both were new converts, and in the midst of convertitis.

I tried not to go to the extreme of, “Nothing in this parish is Orthodox enough, get rid of the pews and organ and change everything back to ‘tradition,’ I’ll wear a headcovering to church and a peasant dress, and I’ll do a full fast even if nobody else does!”

But other signs were there, such as disdain for any theology that isn’t “Orthodox” enough, or any Christian book not written by an Orthodox.  (Not that I feel like going back and changing anything in my theology pages or old Left Behind reviews at this point.)

And Richard kept complaining that my church was not Orthodox enough, and disdaining other theologies.  Two recent converts feeding each other’s convertitis.

Part of my convertitis was moving away from the path I was already on: becoming more liberal.

I had always been a feminist, but with very conservative views on abortion, homosexuality, housewives.  Over the years before converting, I began to move toward more liberal views on homosexuality, and away from the idea that the best way to raise a family was as a housewife.

I now believed that women should have the choice of working mom or housewife without getting grief for it, that it’s about what’s best for your family.  I was in favor of birth control, and believed that some married couples should not be parents.

In the Presbyterian church, I examined studies on homosexuality and the Scripture, and more liberal views of abortion.  But Internet Orthodoxy led me off that track, into a strict view against homosexuality, against legal abortion, against birth control, even against being a working mom.

I don’t remember what exactly shook me out of that and got me back on the liberal-track.  But I do know that it was a combination of Richard’s charisma and Internet ‘doxy that got me off track, neither one claiming full responsibility; the part against working mothers did not come from him.

Internet ‘doxy is full of Pharisaic zeal against things that, when you go into an actual church, especially Greek, nobody seems to care about.

I feel that Orthodoxy is wrong about homosexuality, but even if it’s right, it is NOT Orthodox to condemn homosexuals, condemn women/girls (single, or young, or dirt-poor) who feel their only option is abortion, or prevent others from living their own consciences and religions (NOT ours).

How about working to make abortions unnecessary, because if you make them illegal, desperate girls/women will still take some dangerous herb, use a coat-hanger, or get butchered in some back-room abortion.

I don’t see how this makes me “unOrthodox,” or how it’s “unOrthodox” to vote Democrat to try to make a better life for the poor, weak and downtrodden.

Richard told me he hates Democrats, and had some extremely harsh things to say about Democrats and their policies.  But I became a Democrat partially BECAUSE of the things I saw him going through as a dirt-poor person.  The same feeling which led me to take him in and help him in his poverty, is what led me to become Democrat.

But as written in On Becoming and Remaining an Orthodox Christian:

We come to the Church and we remain in the Church in order to save our souls, and nothing else. Church is not a hobby, a game, a private interest, a pretence, or even a community. It is our soul’s salvation.

We achieve this by first being ourselves and then being the best of ourselves. If there is anything else, it is all secondary. We must never lose this perspective. If we do, then we are out of perspective and on our way out of the Church.

But this part certainly got lost on the way, both with me and with Richard/Tracy:

In order to save our souls, we first have to know ourselves, searching out and discovering our own faults, sins and failings. Then we have to take issue with them and fight, however slowly and weakly, and begin to tame them and never give up this battle. We will know when we are not doing this, it is when we start dwelling on the faults of others.

If our personal pride is hurt in the course of Church life, thank God. That is what we are there for, to become humble.

This does become tricky when people are abused or molested, of course.  It doesn’t help an abuse or rape victim to be told, Stop dwelling on what they did and look at your own sins!

But once you have processed what happened, told about it, and hopefully had some sort of justice, you can begin to focus on your own sins, without justifying what the other person did to you.

To avoid becoming personality disordered, or being constantly angry with others, we need to deal with our anger against the person who actually caused it, not push it down and then take it out on others.

We also are told, right there in the Bible, to watch out for and keep away from wolves in the church.  There are whole passages describing how to tell who is not truly Christian, so you can separate from them.

So some judgment of others is not only allowed, but expected, so you can protect yourself from being poisoned by toxic “Christians.”  It’s not about how you dress, but if you abuse, use and manipulate others.  This does need to be remembered when we are told not to focus on how a fellow church member abused us.

I keep my stories up to vent them out of my heart, and to help others who are still in the healing process after narcissistic abuse.  But if Richard/Tracy ever did repent, I would do some serious cutting.

Most people, however, aren’t dealing with abusers, but with normal faults and flaws among church members.  Getting upset because that lady keeps running off whenever work is to be done, is not the same thing as being molested by a youth leader.

Threatening lawsuits for anything less than getting physically attacked or molested–this should be out of line.  And it is, really; the Bible says this as well.

This website offers a different perspective on converts in the church:

On one level, many Orthodox converts are fleeing megachurch Christianity. They are coming because they want something on Sunday morning besides a rock band and a giant plasma TV screen.

Converts are also fleeing from mainline Protestantism, which is in the midst of a three-decade statistical nosedive and demographic suicide.

At the same time, I believe that most of these converts are coming out of that core 20 percent of their former churches. They are active, highly motivated people. They read, they think, they sing, and they serve. That hunger for more, that hunger for sound doctrine, is sending them to Orthodoxy.

These Orthodox converts are seeking mystery. They want a non-fundamentalist approach to the faith, but they are not fleeing the faith of the ages. They are trying to get back to the trunk of the tree. All around them are churches that are either modern, postmodern, post-postmodern or post-post-postmodern.

It makes the case that churches do need to become more traditional if they want more converts, and to keep their young people.  These two websites demonstrate the two different strains working against each other: one says change back, the other one says accept the church as it is.

But this is why I became Orthodox:

There is only one criterion for entering the Orthodox Church and that is because you are convinced that it is for your personal salvation, for your spiritual survival, because it is God’s Will for you, because you know that this is your spiritual home and that, whatever the cost, you can never be anything else. —On Becoming and Remaining an Orthodox Christian

 

More success raising our boy without spanking/hitting/slapping

We never did slap our kid around or anything like that, but I had originally planned on no spanking at all.  Then my son hit toddler age, and I had trouble getting him to behave.  My ex-friend Richard convinced me to spank, and to do it as hard as I could, and unfortunately, I listened.

It didn’t do one bit of good.  The only thing that ever really worked with my son was to take away things he most wanted if he misbehaved.

After breaking off relations with Richard and his wife (for psychologically abusing me and constantly causing drama), we also stopped spanking, period.  That was about three years ago.

If you read the comments on pretty much every Internet article/blog post about modern discipline, you’d think that parents not spanking/slapping their kids are causing the downfall of society.  That kids run wild because nobody spanks/belts/slaps them anymore.

But I’ve seen kids who are constantly spanked/slapped/screamed at, running wild anyway (Richard’s kids).  I’ve seen well-behaved kids who are raised without harshness.

And the older generations complained about MY generation (X) when we were young, too–even though most of us got spanked or even belted as kids.  In those days, it was still okay to use a paddle or a wooden spoon!

Nowadays in America, according to statistics, most parents do still spank their kids.  So–If most of the kids are getting spanked, then where are all the non-spanked kids who are supposedly running wild?  It must be the spanked-kids who are running wild, then!

Or maybe it’s all imaginary–the same complaints older generations have made about younger generations since the dawn of time–and kids behave no worse than they always have!

Also, violence breeds violence: If you abuse a child, you teach that child to abuse, or to find a spouse who abuses.  Why is it assault to smack your wife upside the head, but okay to smack a child (whose head is much smaller and brain much more vulnerable) upside the head?

Abused kids of today often become the criminals of tomorrow, whom society must then deal with, so it is indeed society’s business when kids are abused.  It is indeed your business if your next-door neighbor is smacking his kid around.

While I hesitate to call a short, quick spank on the well-padded butt “abuse,” especially since most parents still do it, I do intend to raise my child without violence of any kind.  I believe I have apologized to my son for spanking him in the past and following Richard’s bad advice.

He is high-spirited at home.  What brings quick compliance?  “No computer tomorrow!”  The thought of spending a whole long day without playing Minecraft or Roblox, brings him upstairs quick.  But I read that children often push the boundaries with their parents because they’re more comfortable with them.  The real test is how the child behaves for teachers and other authority figures.

Another thing you hear is, “Teachers have trouble controlling their classrooms because parents don’t spank anymore.”  Well, they DO still spank, so it must be some other reason.

And my kid sure isn’t the one causing the problem.  Every year, we hear what a wonderful boy we have, how good he is in class.  Every year, the teacher says, “He’s such a nice boy!”  “He’s a nice kid!”  “He befriended a girl who has trouble making friends.”  “He’s brilliant!”  “His test scores are far above average.”  On Thursday, during parent-teacher conferences, we heard it all again.

He also takes after me: He’s quiet, though he talks all the time with his best friends.  He has also naturally matured since second grade (he’s in fourth grade): He works well in groups, works hard, focuses (he used to be easily distracted), LOVES math (does math problems for fun!), loves to read, reads all the time.

I got paddled, and went to an elementary school where I once heard teachers paddling some poor kid, but I sure didn’t work that hard in school in 4th grade, or do my homework!

And I was a well-behaved kid otherwise, so I didn’t get paddled in school, but just having to put my name on the board was humiliating enough.

(Everybody got spanked or paddled, yet most of my classmates got in trouble more often than I did, and even gasped when I had to put my name on the board, so don’t say the paddling made me well-behaved.  No, it was natural temperament.)

At the beginning of the year, my son had some trouble remembering to do/bring in his homework.  So I gave him some tips, and told him that I would have to take 50 cents off his allowance every time he brought home another late slip.  We also had to tell him because of a problem last year, $1 off his allowance every time he gets to school late.

Guess what?  Ever since then, we’ve had no trouble with forgotten homework or tardiness.  🙂  [Update 12/23/14: So far in fifth grade, he has been remembering homework with no trouble, and his tardiness has also sharply dropped off.]

No violence, but still “hitting” him where it hurts: his allowance.  We do not have to threaten violence to get him to study.  We do not have to threaten violence to get compliance in other areas.

And it’s paying off.

 

Platonic opposite-sex friends without jealous spouses…Or, Saw an old friend for lunch yesterday

It was so good to see my pastor-friend “Mike” again.

He says his wife is “very jealous,” yet she doesn’t know me, doesn’t want to friend people on Facebook just because they’re his friends, doesn’t monitor his conversations with me, none of this.

If what he means is, she doesn’t want to share him sexually, that’s not “jealousy,” that’s normal.  🙂  No, I don’t consider her jealous, since she’s never shown any sign of jealousy with me.

Yes, Mike is in my college memoirs.  We’ve known each other since InterVarsity started up my sophomore year.  I even had a crush on him for a while.  But it wasn’t returned, I moved on to my now-husband, and our friendship has always been strictly platonic.  As Mike puts it, we flirt on occasion, but we always maintain boundaries.

What did we talk about?  Family.  Church.  Religion.  Nothing to be alarmed about.

Some people, even in the twenty-first century, still have problems with married people having opposite-sex friends.  Or people flirting innocently and harmlessly with opposite-sex friends.

While some people do turn it into affairs, that’s their problem.  Let the rest of us have our friends without fear of facing an angry spouse, or having to justify it.

Mike was part of my main circle of friends in college, even though it was mostly female.  We called him an “honorary woman.”  Even though half of us had crushes on him at some point, he never dated us.

I’ve kept up with that circle over the years, and now we’re all on Facebook, connected though scattered across the state.  It would be a shame to break that up because of a jealous spouse.  It’s so good to see this is not a problem.

 

Milwaukee Campaign Slashes Teen Birth Rates in Half in Seven Years

And with the cut in birth rates, comes a cut in abortion rates.  See how they did it in Milwaukee teen birthrate drops 50% in 7 years after city efforts: Ambitious prevention initiative started in 2008

At the same time, Milwaukee Public Schools adopted a new human growth and development curriculum based on national standards, which included comprehensive sex education teaching both abstinence and how to use contraception correctly every time…..

National data suggests teens have become less sexually active and more likely to use condoms when they do have sex. MPS high school students can ask a school nurse for a four-pack of condoms.

A federal waiver that was part of welfare reform several years ago also made it easier for Wisconsin teens to get family planning services offered by Medicaid….

As the teen birthrate has declined, the abortion rate for teens under age 18 also has declined in Milwaukee County, according to state statistics.

Also see Do jumping jacks prevent pregnancy? Shock ads target teen sex myths

Tactics include a website called http://www.getthesexfacts.com/, with a sex myth quiz.  One of the myths they bust: “oral sex is not really sex.”  Another is that pre-orgasmic seminal fluid has no sperm.  They also have a downloadable toolkit for parents.

Carolyn Hax: Deciding when to call the police/CPS; Seeing abuser again; socializing with abusive spouse of a friend

Carolyn Hax has a good response for a common problem:

I realize there is a sense of crossing a Rubicon when calling the police or child-protective services on a parent — of putting them in “the system,” of possibly doing more harm than good. I also understand why this sense is often enough to keep people from making the call.

At the same time, if these kids are in crisis, then it’s every witness’s duty to speak up.

Read her response here.

In my own case, I knew someone who works “in the system,” so I asked her for advice.  But if you can’t do that, Carolyn has some good ideas.  Another thing you can do is to ask Social Services/CPS for advice before making an official report.

I especially like Pace1’s comment:

Please do not talk yourself out of what your instincts are telling you about the likelihood that this woman’s kids are likely experiencing at least emotional abuse at the hands of their mother. You cited two instances of red flag behavior.

Please also don’t think you’ll get more clarity “talking” to the kids. Kids in abusive homes are often very good at keeping the “family secret” of abuse. They may display a lot of love toward their abusive parent because kids will attach at any cost in order to survive.

Kids are often convinced the treatment they receive is deserved because they are bad–a belief often reinforced by the abuser because abusers are unlikely to take responsibility for their behavior. Please err on the side of protecting the kids. A call will most likely initiate an investigation, not an immediate removal….

In another thread of the comments, someone asked,

I have a question: if you were sure, absolutely sure, that you knew someone who had abused a spouse or a child, could you “forget” that enough to socialize with them in other contexts?

Maybe its just me (and I would need to be absolutely sure of the abuse part), but if I *knew* that someone had committed physical, verbal or emotional abuse against a family member, that would make them someone I would ~ based on my own morals ~ not want to socialize with.

The general answer: NO.

Exactly.  That’s why I could not easily socialize with Tracy and resented being forced to.

I also like this comment farther down:

Someone I hurt owes me nothing. I owe them. And the first thing I owe them is the right to assert enough control over themselves and their choices to go forward. I can be ashamed of my own conduct; but I don’t get angry or hurt if someone exercises their God-given right for self-determination and chooses to avoid me.

But abusers do: abusers get *angry* and *offended* when people don’t let them be dominant. They convince themselves that they are entitled to be/act the way they are/do. And because there is no real guilt, no remorse, the pattern endures.

The mere fact that Grandpa is still in the middle of the drama shows that he hasn’t changed. And if he can’t hit with his fist or his belt, he can mindfrick her with his presence and the gaslighting of pretending that nothing is wrong and she’s making a big deal about everything.

You can decide to forgive a rattlesnake for being a rattlesnake, I guess. But you don’t let it get within striking distance of you, that’s for sure.

Several people in this thread “get” why abuse victims do not want to even be in the same room with their abusers, how the abusers try to maintain power over them, and just being in his presence can trigger the cycle.

This cycle, and abusers trying to maintain power by forcing their presence on me where they could continue to psychologically abuse me, is on display in the e-mail my abusers sent me last year.

 

We make wedding plans, more of Phil’s fake dreams–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–March 1994, Part 4

In World Civ I learned that I could stick out my tongue at an old memory: In eighth grade American History, we heard about a general named Hooker.  I called a friend’s attention to the name, and giggled.  She frowned and told somebody else I was laughing at the guy’s name.

Well, now Dr. Williams told us that the term “hooker” for a prostitute came from this guy, who was known for visiting them!  I just loved the poetic justice of this.

Phil told me once, when I saw an open garage door and nobody around it, that S– had almost no crime because the populace was mostly made up of blue-haired old ladies.  Soon after, Phil mentioned this to Dave as he drove Dave and me to school, and Dave told him that there was too crime in S–.

I have since heard that Dave was right.  My current city has the same thing: We have crime, yet people keep leaving their garage doors up, or car doors unlocked.

Maybe in junior year, the college installed a huge gumball machine in the Campus Center lounge.  It must have been as tall as a person.  There was a contest to guess how many gumballs there were in it.

I don’t know how often people used it, but it was quite a conversation piece.  Astrid said on Sunday, October 17, 1999 that though people did buy gumballs from it, the same gumballs were in it the whole time it was in the Campus Center.

Since the rest of us didn’t remember it, it was obviously after 1996, when most of my friends and I had graduated, when someone punched a hole in it and started a fad of grabbing handfuls of gumballs.  Twenty-five cents was hardly a lot, but being free seemed to make them more enticing.  One of Astrid’s Phi-Delt sisters would take a bunch of gumballs to sorority meetings and offer them to everyone.

Bruce Springsteen’s song “Streets of Philadelphia” came out around this time, a song of haunting beauty.

Jennifer eventually broke up with Mike.  Senior year, she began to date a guy named Jason, who had also dated Cindy and Catherine; Jennifer would one day marry him.  They are still together to this day, posting pictures of their kids on Facebook.  So I suppose it was just as well.

The new songs “No Excuses” by Alice in Chains and “Every Generation Got Its Own Disease” by Fury in the Slaughterhouse had a mystical sound that couldn’t be beat.

I heard “Generation” a couple of times on the radio, probably Lazer 103 or 93Q, but it was rarely played despite its musical superiority to most of the other songs they played.

*****

Phil now had a confession for me: that he’d had oral sex with two of his girlfriends.  He still considered himself a virgin and “oral sex” only a name; he explained that without penetration, it wasn’t really sex.  I had always considered it sex.

There was no chance of pregnancy with oral sex, but he didn’t do anal sex (as much as he wanted to) because there was.  However, his admission still bothered me.  It was still intimate, nearly as intimate as sex–maybe more so.

I remember sitting in his parked minivan and saying, “It was supposed to be me!”  He wasn’t supposed to even have oral sex with anyone but me, the one he was to marry (see here, and how Christian kids are taught that virginity is a special gift to be saved for your future spouse, and we were already planning to marry).  I was hurt and devastated, and he felt bad about it.

I also told him that, whether it was really sex or not, I still didn’t want to do it before I got married.  I believe he struggled with the question of whether or not he was really a virgin, and I didn’t want to go through the same thing myself.  I wanted to be able to say unequivocally, “Yes, I am a virgin.”

I didn’t want to be what Ron Hutchcraft on Saturday Night Alive, that radio show for teens which I’d listen to on Christian station WFRN, called a “technical virgin.”  He didn’t go into much description of what he meant, but I figured this fell under that heading.

(Of course, Shawn and Phil both had gotten me into things which made me already a “technical virgin.”  But that’s already been covered in the sophomore year chapters.)

****

On Tuesday, March 22, Phil and several of my friends left for Choir Tour.  They wouldn’t return until about the 29th.  It was awful being away from Phil, and without many of my friends at school, it was even worse.  I counted down the days until he’d return.

Barb, who I believe was now engaged (she’d marry during the short time we worked together at an insurance company in 1996), asked me in World Civ how I was taking it.  She could barely take even a few days without her fiancé.

I was to stay with Phil’s parents when Spring/Easter Break (they were combined that year) began the evening of March 25, and when he came home, he’d take me to Indiana.  We would go back to school on April 4, the last day of Break.  Since his family had such odd eating habits and I didn’t cook, I was afraid no one would feed me, but they did.

I spent my days at his house playing 93.3 on my jam box and doing my homework in Phil’s room.  Phil’s parents complained about me shutting myself away, but I had to get my work done, and this way had the least distractions.

It was also a special time for me, because the music and the sun barely coming through the yellow Venetian blinds (which I may have actually rolled up at times) and the book On the Road gave everything a particular, relaxed feeling.  The song “Shine” by Collective Soul was brand-new and played quite a bit during those days.  I loved it because the musical crunch seemed to fit On the Road so well.

When Phil finally returned one night, waiting for me on his couch as I came out of the bathroom, he was like a stranger to me, which was really weird.  I almost didn’t want to look at him.  But I was glad to have him back again.

He had stories for me, such as going through Indiana (the choir tour was in several states) and seeing all these Bob Evans restaurants.  To me that was normal, but it reminded those Wisconsin kids of one of the guys on Choir Tour.  He had the last name Evans, so this inspired jokes.

I also learned either from Phil or, more likely, my friends, that on Choir Tour, “Home” is the house you’re staying in that night with your tour roommate, “Home Home” is Roanoke, and “Home Home Home” is your home with your parents.

I had a yellow piece of paper with the directions to South Bend written on it, the ones my parents had given me over the phone while I was at Phil’s house.  I kept it in my coat pocket.  Phil’s dad said to me just before we left, “Watch him and make sure he goes where he’s supposed to.”  Even his dad knew he had a tendency of going the wrong way.

When we stopped at the McDonald’s on one of the Tri-State Tollway oases, I got a map of Chicago.  Phil said we didn’t need one, and chuckled at me for getting one, but I said we should listen to my mother’s advice and get one.  (We did use it eventually.  I don’t remember if we used it this time, but we did on our way through Chicago in September.)

Phil had these tapes–Monty Python routines and Jerky Boys routines–that he liked to play all the time.  They were funny the first time, but he played them ALL the time.  Then he wanted to play them on the way to my parents’ house.  I said we’d play it some on my jam box, but after that, I wanted to hear my favorite Chicago stations!

He didn’t seem to understand that playing comedy routines over and over again is not quite as easy on the nerves as playing music.  The jokes get old, after all.

We also played the song “Witch’s Invitation” on my Carman CD because Phil had heard of it and wanted to know what it was like.  He didn’t like the part about a Dungeons and Dragons game set up on the witch’s table.  I think it ruined how he felt about the whole song, which I thought was unfair because it was too good to be condemned just for that one line.

(Of course, in 2006, I listened to the song again and decided I didn’t like it, either, or the rest of the CD.  The song stereotyped witches as Satan-worshippers when most of them don’t even believe in Satan, stereotyped witches as some sort of freaky horror show rejects, and lumped an innocent role-playing game with Satanic things.  Then it presumed to say what will happen to the souls of witches (many of whom are peaceful and caring), when only God can judge that.  The Eastern Orthodox say that we don’t know the extent of God’s mercy.)

I liked to influence the dreams of my cats and dogs, such as making them purr or barking at them.  My ex Peter sometimes acted out dreams, and I’d do things like scratch a notebook to see how he’d react.  Now, during Spring Break, Phil had a couple of interesting dreams which he acted out, while I helped.  One night, Phil went to sleep and had a dream which he acted out in some ways, such as giggling and kissing.  He dreamed that he and I had sex, though I didn’t help with that.  Then he was so sad, even shedding a tear or two I believe, because he’d taken away my virginity.

So I woke him up, but he still thought it had really happened.  I told him it was just a dream and I watched him have it.  He said it was I who had been dreaming that he was dreaming, and that it had really happened.  But I finally convinced him he’d been dreaming, not me.

Of course, I did not yet have a clue that this was all a ruse, that he was awake the whole time, pretending to be asleep.

One night, Phil and I talked about when we wanted to get married.  We didn’t want to wait until I graduated.  He was already taking on extra classes so he could graduate only a semester after I did, instead of a whole year.  We talked about marrying during my senior year and living in the new apartments, which Phil said were meant to also be married-student housing.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

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