Phil’s crappy jobs cause depression (Bits of Abuse Here and There)–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–June 1994, Part 2

My dad told me, “I’m not paying for a Catholic wedding.”  I told Phil about this, since of course he needed to know, and of course it upset him that my dad would feel that way about his denomination.

But there wasn’t much I could do about it.  A Catholic wedding would be far more difficult for my parents to manage:

As members they could rent our own church at a greatly reduced price, but for a Catholic wedding, they’d have to find some church either in South Bend or in Wisconsin that they had nothing to do with at any other time.  I didn’t blame my dad for not wanting to deal with that.

Besides, I wouldn’t be able to take part in a Mass at my own wedding, and we wouldn’t be able to get married in a Catholic church anyway, because I wasn’t Catholic.

Also, Dad said, “I want to walk my daughter down the aisle.”  Mom and I had no idea before this that he felt so strongly about it.

****

I read Interview With a Vampire by Anne Rice. It’s a good, intriguing book, but gory.  I had to skim over some parts, but some others I just couldn’t stop reading.

After that, I read The Thorn Birds–which, surprisingly, was also a bit gory at times.

I kept putting Phil in the parts of the sexy main characters in my mind’s eye: He was Louis, he was Father Ralph.  Physically he seemed to fit the parts, and there was his past seven-year desire to become a priest.

****

Phil’s first summer job, selling satellite dishes for cable TV for country homes, had the potential to pay $100,000 a year.  Just a couple of promotions would do it, so he considered not going back to school in the fall if he did well at the job.

He seemed like the type of person who could be a salesman.  We thought it would be a good start for our marriage, but I still hoped that one day he’d pursue his dreams of being an actor.  If I never saw him act again in a play or anything else, it would be a huge loss.

(Fast-forward: He never did become an actor.  Instead, he became a math teacher like his father.)

****

We had a little birthday party for my dad on the 5th.  He was 56 now, and trying to tell us he was 32.

“What does that make me?” I said.

“Chopped liver,” Phil said.

Actually, I would turn 21 on the 22nd.  I didn’t intend to start drinking, though.  I wasn’t raised to drink, and the stuff was stinky and unappealing.  Besides, even if I did, Phil couldn’t join me because he would not be legal for another six months.

When I left for the summer, I thought, Next year my friends and I will say good-bye for good.  Some of our friends already had.  But as it turned out, my friends and I did not say good-bye for good.  We still keep in touch via e-mail and try to see each other whenever we can.  Facebook has made things even easier.

My Senior Writing Project was a novel (Jerisland) which I started in 1988 or 1989 and wanted to finally finish.

I told a pen pal that for romances in my stories, I liked to match the main character with another character I liked.  It’s fun to be in control of that in stories.  On TV or in the works of other writers, the matches aren’t always the ones I would make.

Phil kept coming home and saying that his name was on everybody’s lips at his job.  His superiors kept saying how well and how much Phil was doing.

Yet he had to spend a lot on his transportation and clothes, they didn’t reimburse him for this, and they only paid him if he did 20 presentations or sold to two households.

Also, despite working his butt off six days a week for nine or ten hours a day, he made few sales.  My parents kept having to give him food and gas money.

(Just like during the school year, when he had a job but half of my paycheck went to his food and gas!)

So finally, after maybe two weeks of working for them–and the day after finally getting a paycheck but for only $175–he quit on Friday, June 10.  He needed money for school and my engagement ring, not this piddly amount.  When Mom told my brother Jake about it, she said he finally came to his senses.

On the 11th, I wrote in a letter to Pearl,

My parents just love Phil.  He and my dad are always talking about stuff, and my mom told the people at work that “you just want to love him to death.” “That’s my job,” I said.

Jake hasn’t said much, and my youngest brother–who knows what he thinks.  He teases Phil so bad, just like he does everybody else, and you wonder sometimes if he’s serious.

I couldn’t believe what Phil did last night.  He’d thought up a joke to do at a drive-through while I was with him, but before he couldn’t do it because he kept laughing. This time, he did it.

We went to Dairy Queen, which has a drive-through here, and he said, “I want a Peanut Buster Parfait, and I don’t want a hot dog.”

The person taking the order said, “That’s  a Peanut Buster Parfait and a hot dog?”

“No, I don’t want a hot dog.”

“Okay, a Peanut Buster Parfait and no hot dog.”

She sounded ticked, but when we pulled up to the window she didn’t seem that way at all.  “That’s a Peanut Buster Parfait and no hot dog,” she said.

He told her it was a dare, and she said, “That’s okay.  I survived it.”

Then today we were driving along outside South Bend and in the outskirts of Mishawaka and saw a curve sign for a curve that was up ahead.  It was right next to a tree, the arrow pointing in the direction of the tree, and someone wrote “TREE” on the sign.  I just busted out laughing.

On the 12th, I wrote to Peter,

Phil’s here at my house, keeping it interesting.  I suppose we might as well see what it’s like to live in the same house, because we’ve been engaged since April.  We weren’t intending to get engaged that soon, but he just couldn’t wait any longer.

His mom calls us the perfect couple.  It does seem like we were meant to be together, even with our differences.  We do have our arguments, especially over religion–one Catholic, one Protestant, both of us bull-headed (my dad’s term)–but we always get them worked out somehow.

My youngest brother still isn’t married, but at least he’s finally out of the house.  That’s why Phil gets to stay here, because we have a spare room for him.  Not that he’s in it very often.

So this helps explain how, despite the abuse that had been going on, I stayed with him: because it was so subtle that the good times still outweighed the bad.  But things would soon change.

From what I’ve read, this is common in abusive relationships, because you have to be hooked first.  If the abuse starts too early, you’ll bail because you’re not emotionally bound to this person yet.  But if everything is perfect, you don’t want to leave when the abuse starts; you keep waiting for the perfect to return.

He found another sales job early in the week of June 12, selling Kirby vacuum cleaners.  Mom hated them, and now Phil was selling them.

This job depressed him.  One night, as he and my mom were alone in the kitchen and he ate a late dinner (as usual because of his hours), he seemed close to tears.

I think his employers treated him a little better, compensating for gas and such, but he thought none of the other sales people in his group liked him.  He quit at the end of the week.  To stay with me all summer, he had to find another job.

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:

 

More support for keeping diaries and saving letters/e-mails: to defend against gaslighting from abusers and narcissists

Here in several posts by Grace for my Heart, are reasons why we must keep diaries and save our letters/e-mails when dealing with psychological and narcissistic abuse:

Second, write things down.  I am a strong proponent of good records and journals in these relationships.  When you have a disagreement, even something as simple as the conversation I related above, write down your thoughts about it.

Tell what you remember and why and how you felt when the conversation ended.  Write down his lie/excuse/challenge as well.

You don’t have to do anything with this, but you may find that a pattern emerges and you can see what is really happening.  And you may take your journal to a counselor you trust to learn even more someday. —Gaslighting

This is especially important because

Also, narcissistic abuse is difficult to prove.  What evidence can you give?  Usually narcissists are not physical abusers, so there are no marks to show.

The continual criticism and the gaslighting can be hard to show to others.  And the effect is cumulative.  Taken as individual instances, these things often seem insignificant.

It’s when it happens every day over a period of years that the effects of the abuse are felt.  People who know you realize that something is wrong, but can’t put their finger on the cause, even when they see it happening.

The sad truth is that narcissists often win in the court of public opinion.  They have lived their whole lives manipulating the perspectives of others and they are invested way beyond anything the rest of us would consider reasonable.

They are usually ruthless in their willingness to attack, even to lie.  They tie others to themselves through manipulation for support. —Why Won’t They Believe Me?

You can use this to make your story believable because:

Last week I wrote about the difficulty many have in explaining the actions and abuse of the narcissist.  Some find that they simply are not believed when they begin to describe the kind of attacks and manipulation they have suffered.

I wanted to suggest some ways to prepare for telling your story.  Please understand that there is no magic incantation to make someone believe you.

As I explained last week, there are times when the recipients of your story feel that they cannot support you, even if they do believe you.  And, at other times, the narcissist simply wields his super ability to persuade others and you lose.  I wish it were some other way.

But there may be a few things that could help.

  1. Keep records.  Contemporaneous notes, records written very near the time of the event, are considered to be stronger evidence than just a story later.  If you can write down, within an hour or so, the exact words used or the particular times of the event or some very specific information, you will find that people receive your words with greater trust.  This is a well-respected technique in negotiations, probably because it seems more difficult to fabricate.  Use different writing tools from time to time to accent the fact that you are not writing this all at once. —Overcoming the Disbelief

I believe this is the real reason why Richard and Tracy tried to make me feel somehow stalker-y for saving my letters and e-mails to and from friends.  I believe they wanted me to feel just as creepy as they told me I was acting, so I would destroy all those letters and e-mails.

I believe they feared that I was writing down the things they were doing and saying, and that their house of cards would soon fall when I added it all up and realized they’d been deliberately deceiving and manipulating me.

And well, they were right about that.  These posts by Grace for my Heart, which I just found tonight, are also added support for my conviction that I did nothing wrong or “creepy” in saving these letters and e-mails.

Unfortunately, I shredded/deleted a bunch of letters and e-mails in 2008 after listening to bad advice, in an attempt to “forgive” Tracy and “move on” so we could be friends.

But a Providential “mistake” led to me discovering some of those old e-mails in draft form, a few in particular which I especially wanted back.

Basically, in May 2010, we got a new computer.  I didn’t understand how to transfer Thunderbird e-mails from one computer to another.  I had the old data files on a portable hard drive, but didn’t know how to re-connect them on the new computer.

So I used a very cumbersome method to look through my e-mails: opening them with WordPad and WordPerfect.  This left me with a tremendous amount of HTML junk to sift through (one little bit of HTML in an e-mail will turn into hundreds of pages of lines of junk characters), and far too much data at one time to be opened easily.

BUT then one day in September 2012, I discovered that my Drafts file had preserved all the different stages of each draft, even ones I had deleted!  These files did not have HTML like my Inbox, and were much easier to read through.

I could see the very first version of a draft before I first saved it, all the way up through various changes, to the final version!  And every version had its own time and date stamp.

I could see an e-mail written to Richard, full of venting and complaints about abuse in an early version, then later on changed to be far more diplomatic.

Shortly after this, I discovered how to connect my e-mails to a new computer, so I could use my e-mails normally through Thunderbird.

But I also saved a copy of the original data files, and the files I made to use with WordPad, so all those old drafts still exist.  If anyone questions if the WordPad files have been altered, they can verify them with the original data files.

I have used these e-mails to make my account far more accurate than it was before, since I had forgotten some things by the time I wrote it, and to prove that I used words like “bullied” and “abused” way back in December 2007 when complaining about how I was treated.

They prove that Richard told me he was being abused.  They prove that I saw acts of verbal and physical abuse when they lived in my house.

Drafts of e-mails sent to my mother describe the abuse I witnessed while Richard and Tracy lived in my house, so even though I deleted the e-mails and my mom does not keep e-mails that old, I still have copies.

And I have e-mail exchanges with my husband in 2009 which were never deleted, which prove that Richard complained of abuse.  I also have copies of an e-mail which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am telling the truth about their domestic violence, because of who it’s from and what it says.

I probably also found people more easily believed my story, when they themselves had dealt with Richard/Tracy, and/or when Richard’s criminal conviction of choking his daughter gave my story that outside verification through official sources, of plausibility.  Lots of narc victims don’t have this.

These records prove that I am not crazy.  That I am NOT “not all there.”  That this was Richard and Tracy gaslighting me again into thinking I was crazy and lying–or trying to, but they couldn’t because I have proof of the truth.  I have resisted exes trying to gaslight me in the past, so I know I can resist it now, too.

Do this yourself, keeping records and e-mails, when you feel something is going weird, so you can figure it out later and prove it to others.

Don’t let your narc tell you it’s “creepy.”  Those e-mails and diaries could save your sanity one day.  Or even help you in custody battles or with proving your side of the story.

I also highly recommend that you read all the articles I linked to in this post, because there is far more information in there about defending against gaslighting, telling your story and being believed.

Also see The EAA: Document Your Abuse So Your Abuser Can Be Caught/Prosecuted

 

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