Phil says if he abuses me, it takes two people to sign the divorce papers–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–August 1994, Part 4

One day that August, Phil said that if he went to the computer right away and didn’t come upstairs after work, it meant he needed some space.  I wasn’t terribly happy about it, because after a day away from him and with my parents, I liked to see him and talk to him right away, and greet him.  But I understood, so I let him have this space.

He did like to say good-bye to me every day and kiss me at the door, and another day that August he said that was special to him.  He liked knowing that someone cared for and loved him.

I said now that I’d like to kiss him hello, too, but when he came upstairs to my room after work, he didn’t often come over to me while I sat on my chair.  He said he didn’t want the kiss to lose its meaning.

It was hard to take, and he did have all that time away from me during the day, but I thought it was a guy thing.  I gave him space whenever he asked for it, but he had to let me know he needed it, or else I wouldn’t know.  My alone time came while he was gone and I read/wrote in my room.

Despite my best efforts, in September (probably during the fateful first Friday back, which you will soon read about), he complained that I didn’t give him space!  But as this shows, I did give him his space.

From August until September, I let him play on the computer alone; once or twice he asked to sleep alone in the guest room, and I let him.  I actually liked having the bed to myself for once, though I was lonely.  It was a good switch, and I didn’t mind so much.  Yet more gaslighting and changing history to justify a breakup!

****

One Sunday, Phil said what I never thought he would say:

Once before, he threatened to hit me; this must have been after the miscarriage, because he later said he didn’t mean it and, “How could I hit the mother of my child?”

But this time, in the van on the way to the evening church service, somehow the topic of abuse came up in the conversation.  I don’t remember why, probably after some threat, I told him if he ever hit me, ever abused me, I would divorce him.

He said petulantly and angrily, “It takes two people to sign the divorce papers.”

Somehow, I think the law would be on the side of the abused wife.  I remember telling one of Cugan’s friends about this in 1996 or 1997, and she said it does take two people, but the wife could still divorce an abusive husband.  She should know: This happened to her.

I had yet to recognize that Phil already did abuse me in other ways quite often.  That’s the danger of emotional abuse: not recognizing it because it’s not hitting.  If I’d known better, if we hadn’t said those marriage vows, if I had no trouble finding dates, I would’ve sent him packing before the end of the summer.

He was also dead wrong:

Can he keep me from getting a divorce by refusing to sign the paperwork?

Answer:

No, he can’t. He doesn’t have the legal right to dictate to you whether or not you can obtain a divorce. His response is not uncommon for someone who thinks it is OK to beat a spouse but, he is misguided in his belief that he has that kind of control. –Cathy Meyer, Can My Spouse Refuse to Sign Divorce Papers?

Wisconsin is also a no-fault divorce state, so only one person needs to want the divorce, without having to prove grounds for divorce.

****

Phil had become immovable, intractable, willful, obstinate.  One Sunday afternoon in August or maybe September, I tried to tell him I needed to go look for pH paper so our natural family planning could be more accurate and I wouldn’t get pregnant.

He kept saying he wanted to sleep, but I said the stores might close soon.

“I can’t have my parents take me, for goodness’ sake!”  I cried.  How would I explain it?

He said, “You have a license.  Borrow the car.”

I hadn’t driven since 1992!!  I hadn’t driven very often in the first place, and I didn’t know if I’d remember everything now.  I didn’t want to drive again without someone with me to make sure I did it right.

I write here about the trouble I’ve always had with driving, and how I believe NVLD is the cause.  NVLD is a visual-spatial disorder.

I’m afraid and not a good driver.  I have trouble steering and judging when it’s safe to turn.  I easily get confused on unfamiliar roads, or on road construction detours.  I have gotten terribly lost, or completely turned around, because of poor visual memory and trouble reading a map.  I don’t know what to do in unfamiliar situations.  I have a poor sense of direction.

All of this meant I should not just go out on my own, especially since I had no idea how to get any place in the city, despite growing up there.  I wouldn’t know how to get to our usual pharmacy, let alone any other place which might have pH papers.

But he showed no desire even to understand or sympathize, just wanted to throw me out on my own where I would probably get hopelessly lost or have an accident.

The drivers’ ed class I took when I turned seventeen had no machines to teach us how to drive before going out in traffic.  The instructor took our permits to make sure we’d never be without them in the car, so I could get no practice outside of class unless I broke the law.

It took at least two tries before I passed my final test, and the instructor gave me a DOT driving test waiver, but begged me to practice.  However, I was still too frightened to practice much.  Then at college, I didn’t have a car.

I’d always been afraid of cars, and got a lot of bad-natured ribbing for it from classmates in junior high because I wanted to be absolutely sure I could cross Ewing Street to my bus stop.  That was a very busy street, too busy for young kids to cross every day for the bus (even Mom said so), and it frightened me.

Those kids were very cruel to me.  And now, I was scared of driving because cars can kill.

If you have to do something, you have to do something, and in this case, it was finding pH paper.  The books I read said I was supposed to check the pH of my cervical mucus, but didn’t say how.  All I could think of was that you do what you did in school: use pH paper.

As far as either of us knew, it was vital to success with this kind of birth control.  He didn’t want me getting pregnant on Monday because I didn’t know if I was ovulating, did he?  And some stores closed early on Sunday.

On weekdays he stayed in bed during the only time in the afternoon when we could go to the stores, and then I had no transportation at all after he left for work.  Even if I were more used to driving, there would be no car for me to use.

I sure didn’t want to borrow my parents’ car or have them drive me, and have them find out where I was going and, possibly, why.  What the heck did he expect me to do?

We slept late Sunday mornings, often getting up in the afternoon, so it wasn’t like he was suffering from a lack of sleep.

Oh, yeah, it’s so frickin’ unreasonable to ask, on one of your very last weekends in a big city for some time, to ask to be taken shopping on the only possible day of the week since you sleep till 2pm every day, because you’re so frickin’ tired in the middle of a Sunday afternoon after sleeping 9 hours until probably 1 or 2 pm!

In fact, his obstinance makes me wonder if he was trying to sabotage the very birth control he insisted we use. 

Or if he had decided to resist every single thing I’d ever ask for, to punish me, manipulate me into anal/oral sex, and establish his dominance as the king of our household, while I was just a lowly female who had no right to get anything she wanted.

If I could go back in time and talk to my younger self, I would say,

“Are you sure you want to marry him legally when he won’t even do anything for you without you nagging him, if he resists every single thing or bit of help you ask for, if he criticizes everything you do, but then tries to force you into things that hurt or disgust you?  This is a bad sign!

“If he’s engaged to you, if he even says he’s your husband, if he truly loves you, then he has a certain obligation to you.  If you need something, it’s his place to help you.  He doesn’t want to face up to any of his responsibilities.  Are you sure he even cares much about you anymore?”

Anyway, finally he took me out.  I saw him looking at the condoms, and said, “Aren’t you glad you don’t have to use those?”

He said that actually, he wished he could use them, because he wouldn’t have to worry so much about me getting pregnant.  So….Why didn’t he change his mind and let us use condoms instead of this weird natural family planning we didn’t even understand?

We found no pH paper anywhere.  I didn’t know if you could even get it anywhere.  I thought you should be able to, because chemistry sets are common childhood toys.

According to the parenting book I mentioned in the June section, kits for checking mucus were supposed to be available in any drugstore, but we found nothing but one-time-use kits that were very expensive (about $20) and hardly practical for daily use.

I didn’t know how I was going to test the cervical mucus without pH paper or kits, because just testing the consistency didn’t work.  It all looked the same to me.  I had no one to tell me I was doing it wrong.

(I finally got ahold of some pH paper in 1997: Cugan found it at a science surplus store in Milwaukee, and got me five vials, because we wanted to use it when we got married.  But then, in the universe’s typical ironic fashion, I was diagnosed with a hormonal imbalance and had to go on the Pill to regulate it.)

In May or June, we tried calling a local natural family planning clinic (something we looked for but didn’t find in S–) but there was no answer.  Plus Phil was afraid to call them now, because we weren’t legally married.  He thought they wouldn’t want to tell us until we were, because it would encourage us to have sex before the wedding.

But turns out, that fear was groundless: You have to get used to the routine and your cycle and know what you’re doing, before you start depending on natural family planning.  I wonder if he really feared this, or was, again, trying to sabotage the NFP.

One day he said to me, “Maybe we should have sex less often–there’s less risk of pregnancy that way, and it’ll also be more special.”

It seems innocent enough, right?  Like a sweet idea?  Yet no more than maybe two weeks later, I found out from his actions what he really meant: that he was tired of me not being submissive enough to my master husband, and wanted to divorce me.

Another thing that, looking back, was fishy: In August we watched Mrs. Doubtfire.  I expected Sally Field’s character to fall back in love with Robin Williams’ character, the usual Hollywood happy ending, and was shocked when this didn’t happen.  I also didn’t like what she said, that, “I’m a better person when I’m not around you.”  I didn’t like that Williams’ character told a child that, “Sometimes parents are better people when not around each other.”

To me, who had grown up in a strict religious background, this all sounded like the Devil’s lies, trying to justify divorce and breaking up the home, putting a warm-fuzzy, happy-sounding, new agey appearance on divorce, when what’s needed is counseling and work to save the marriage.

I talked about this a bit with Phil, who always agreed with me that divorce should be avoided at all costs, and is a sin except in extreme cases (i.e., adultery, desertion, abuse).  He said the movie was trying to be realistic by not showing the couple getting back together, because that often doesn’t happen in real life.  That seemed reasonable enough.  But then he said, “After all, sometimes people are better people when they’re not around each other.”

I said that it just wasn’t a good enough reason for divorce.  It wasn’t biblically based: Christ never said, “But then, if you don’t get along, if you’re annoyed by the person, it’s okay to leave them in the dust and divorce them.”  No, he said quite the opposite.  His change of mind about divorce made me nervous.  Keep in mind that he was a Catholic, which is even stricter about divorce.

Now, I see it as him making the decision to divorce me several weeks before he actually did, then using a movie to justify it.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

A post to make my blogging worthwhile

I just found this in my stats:

January 23rd post, “Finally, Someone Who Gets It

This blogger just found my post tonight: On Being Judged For Shyness.  After she read it, she wrote, “I’m crying internal tears of joy knowing that there’s someone out there who understands how I feel on a daily basis.  Her closing paragraph really hit home:”

My closing paragraph:

Please, don’t be that person.  Don’t expect shy people to talk.  Draw them out instead by asking questions.

If we still don’t say much, don’t take it personally; sometimes it takes a while for us to become comfortable enough with you to talk easily.  Or maybe we simply have nothing to say about that subject.  Because our brains have such a hard time coming up with conversational topics off the cuff, just give us a chance.

Let us be ourselves, and don’t make a big deal about our quiet natures.  It may take a few meetings, it may take 20 or 100, but eventually, we may begin to open up to you.  Even now I can be very quiet in a group of people I’ve known and been comfortable with for years, but one-on-one I can often be more talkative.

It does my heart good to see my posts connecting to others like this.  To know that all the clicking away I do all the time, is starting to reach out to others and make a difference.

 

Phil Mindscrews Me: changes history, blames me for things that were not my fault, treats me like an idiot during games–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–August 1994, Part 3

In an August letter to Clarissa, I described a headache which two of those mail-order music companies put me through, Word and Columbia House: I sent my May cards back in plenty of time to refuse the month’s latest “tell us no or we’ll send it automatically” selections, almost a month before the due date, along with address changes from Roanoke to my home.

Yet for some strange reason, they kept sending cards to Roanoke–along with the selections I rejected!  Then when the selections were forwarded to my house (one was COD for some unknown reason!), I sent them back.

Then I got letters scolding me for either (Word) not paying for a CD I’d already sent back, or (Columbia House) not telling them I wanted to reject the selections.

!!!!!!!!!!

I was furious, annoyed and irritated, dealing with this all summer long, when I had done everything I was supposed to, and had done nothing wrong.

I don’t recall when I finally cancelled these accounts, after all these years.  This probably had something to do with it.

Sometime afterwards, I tried BMG, which eventually moved everything to a website, sometime between 1998 and the 2000s.  I used the website to reject a selection, only to get it anyway.  Or to order another, and not get it.

I finally washed my hands of music clubs completely, and now get my stuff from Amazon.  This “tell us no or we’ll send it” method is ridiculous.  I recommend staying away from clubs like this.

Another thing I wrote in that letter:

You won’t believe what station just drowned out Q101 (Chicago) for a few minutes and came in quite clearly: WIXX!  They identified themselves as WIXX–Green Bay, and I about freaked.  That station that you can’t pick up past S–, drowned out a Chicago station across the river?!  (8/3–Phil tells me they were going to boost their power.)

****

Phil almost lost his legs one day!  He came home and said his friend at work was driving the forklift (or some other kind of machinery) and didn’t see Phil there, picking up metal strips (or tubing or whatever it was).  At the crucial moment, one of them saw the other and tragedy was avoided.

I felt that if I hadn’t prayed for him every day when he went to that factory (always fearing such incidents), and if they hadn’t seen each other in time, Phil would have lost the lower half of his legs, at or below the knee.  He was glad I’d been praying for him.

His legs were in pain for a few days.  After this, I prayed even more fervently for his safety at the factory each day.

Phil didn’t think he’d have to work the next day, but that he would just go in, report the incident, and come back home to recover.  I expected to see him again within the hour after he left.

But his foreman said that because he didn’t report the incident right after it happened, he wasn’t eligible for compensation, and had to stay and work.  I guess it was harder to prove it actually happened on the job, though his friend could back up his story, but the foreman should at least have let Phil take a sick day.  It just didn’t seem fair.

****

Probably in July, Phil made up some character sheets for my new character, Phoena Palindrome, and we started playing Dungeons & Dragons with her.

She was a half-elven, bard meistersinger, with gold hair like the Crayola crayon.  I wrote up a whole background for her.  Phil found that strange, though I hear that’s common.

We went around the house looking for dice, since Phil didn’t bring most of his, just his players’ handbook, bard’s handbook, big Monstrous Compendium notebook and maybe a few other books.

We had to improvise with six-sided dice, though I do remember a cool, red, twenty-sided one with pink flecks, and possibly a gold nugget.  Maybe he used these for his Dungeon Master rolls.  There were big ones, small ones, red ones, tiny ones I found in a game.

Phil had to type up character sheets on the Microsoft Word Processor, because he had no real character sheets.

Later, I started a new character, Fury, a druid, meant to complement Phoena and be her more sensual cousin, so I could have a little more fun with her.  (Phoena was saving herself for marriage.)

She had proficiencies Phoena lacked, and few of Phoena’s proficiencies.  (If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry about it.)  Their first and last names, by the way, were Phil’s idea, since he said he knew what kind of names an elf might have.  Phoena’s name was spelled “Ph” because I liked it better.

I faithfully recorded every adventure Phoena had, and noted I didn’t like the many fights she had with other creatures.  She didn’t like fighting, but it seemed the only way she ever had adventures to write songs about.

Phil said that as Dungeon Master, his games were battle-oriented.  He was proud of this, but I found it boring.  Phil soon brought in Darken, a dwarf, to help Phoena get out of fights alive.

He told me once that I was better at this and getting the hang of it faster than anyone else he knew.

Finally, something of more interest than constant fighting happened: Phoena was sold as a love-slave.  On the way to her master’s home, she rode along in a cart with his other slaves, all male, not love slaves.  One, a cute elf, took a special liking to her.

Phoena, by the way, never wanted to settle down with anyone, and kept breaking hearts.  Phoena got away from her master with her virginity intact, answered a sphinx’s question, and continued her adventures.

****

Phil began complaining about what he gave up to be there with me, reproaching me with it, as if it were my fault somehow.  He said he would’ve had steel-toed boots and not had to buy them, he would’ve had his own suits, he would’ve had this or that.

He mentioned an opportunity for doing a demo tape of his voice, which he would use to get announcing jobs on the radio or TV.  The sub for the theater director told him about this in the spring, while the director had heart trouble.  The sub was an accomplished actor, and loved Phil’s abilities.

I don’t know the circumstances, why Phil didn’t just go earlier or later.

Phil talked about these things as if I made him give them up, which I hadn’t.  I never forced him to come down to Indiana, had resigned myself to not seeing him all summer.  Then he said he wanted to take me down there, take my mom’s offer for him to stay with us, and find a job.

He defied his parents to do this, even though my mom said she didn’t want him disowned over this, and I did not want him to defy or lie to his parents.  The true story is in the May chapter.

But now he changed history on me, trying to make me think I forced him into this against his wishes, so now it was all my fault he had to buy new boots and didn’t make that demo tape.

Did he seriously expect me to buy this?  This, by the way, is more gaslighting, a common tactic of abusers and narcissists.

In December, he told a friend that I made him go down there, that my parents wanted to see if we should get married.  When I confronted him with it in a letter, he acted to Pearl like he didn’t say that.

But you see here that he did say it to me, and that he was a gaslighting liar, so why should I believe he did not tell Randy that?

Also, he admitted to me in September that he manipulated people for his own ends, so why shouldn’t I believe that he told Randy this, then when it got back to me, pretended to Pearl that he never did?

A smear campaign to discredit the abuse victim, is another common tactic of abusers: If his friends all think I’m controlling and crazy, they won’t believe me when I tell the truth about what he did.

Also, all that time, over all those months since January 28 when we started going out, I thought Phil had been nice to Tracy during the breakup.  I thought she accepted everything, said she never expected he would stay with her, anyway, because she knew where his heart truly lay.

This was how he explained it to me.  He said he opened doors for her after the breakup and tried to be nice.  When she began hating him and told his mom he treated her badly, I thought it was spite, and wondered where it came from after she’d been so understanding.

(Typical abuser tactic: paint the ex as crazy or spiteful, so you don’t believe anything she says.)

But no.  This was not the case, after all.  One night in the kitchen, I found to my dismay that he broke up with her meanly.  He told her, “I’m sick of being a nice guy!”

Meaning, he was sick of being the nice guy who gave her a chance even though he was not attracted to her, but was in love with me.

Now, he also insulted me for “stealing him away” from Tracy.  He said if he saw a girl he wanted with another guy, he’d let them be.  He wouldn’t try to get her.

Never mind the fact that I only tried to “steal him away” because I asked him out first, he said he liked me rather than Tracy, and for his whole month with Tracy he kept showing and saying how much he wanted to be with me instead.  He did not love her; he just knew her better.  He loved me.

He spent all these months telling me how much he loved me, that he realized it before we went to Pearl’s party, etc. etc.  He also checked with her, and she said it was perfectly fine for him to date other people, because they were not exclusive.

All this is depicted in the December and January chapters, which include details taken straight from diary entries I wrote while this went on.

If he actually loved Tracy and not me, I would have left them alone.  But now he talked as if he were sorry I succeeded.

This fits with the abusive traits of gaslighting, berating, chastising and insulting.

And besides that, the timing was wrong, because he already liked me and already knew I liked him, so “going out” with her rather than choosing me was unfair to both Tracy and me.

It was unfair to me because I knew he liked me, and my feelings were hurt.  It was unfair to Tracy because it led her on, and set her up to get even more hurt by a breakup instead of a simple rejection.

In the spring, he also accused me of being responsible for her pain by not being “assertive” enough in going after him.

Um….First semester I barely knew him, barely ever saw him, except at Pearl’s parties.  He was a commuter, so I could not look him up in the campus directory.  Yet I worked up the courage to ask him out, a huge step for me.  I didn’t wait for him to ask me out.

The night we went out, I told him I was interested in him romantically.  So how exactly was I not “assertive” enough?

But this was his way of making me responsible for his hurting Tracy through his own careless behavior.  The latter part of summer was Phil putting one massive mindscrew on me, typical abusive and narcissistic behavior.

Here we were married, so we obviously belonged together, yet he insulted me for chasing him in the first place!  This is emotional and psychological abuse.

****

We’d been going to bed at about 5 am and getting up at 1 or 2 in the afternoon.  (Yes, you read that right.)  Phil came home, then we’d want to game, he’d play computer games, he’d have a frozen pizza for his dinner, we’d make love, we’d talk, we’d argue….It depended on the night.

Mom told me we shouldn’t go to bed so late.  It was weird to go to bed just when she got up, but Phil didn’t get home till after 11pm.  I slept when he did (though I got up sooner, since nine hours is a lot) so I could be with him when he was awake.

It was the only time I got to see him during the work week, especially since he woke up at 2pm or later and then rushed off to work, unwashed.

He said guys at the factory went to bed right after work and slept until about that same time.  Maybe they didn’t have wives or families, because their wives and/or children would want to see them sometime during the day.

Also, it’s hard to buy that, considering that midnight to 2pm is 14 frickin’ hours.  Responsible adults need to spend part of every day doing something besides work and sleep: cooking, cleaning, paying bills, going on errands.

And, yes, caring for children and spending time with the wife.  I suspect it was another lie meant to make me feel like a nag.

****

Phil picked up the game “Crack the Case” for the InterVarsity group, who loved playing board games at parties.  One person, the gamemaster, knows the solution to a mystery case and the other asks yes or no questions.  It sounded like fun, and you can see it has high marks.

But when Phil and I played it, he kept snapping at me.

If he was the gamemaster, he treated me like a stupid idiot when I didn’t pick up on some clue he gave.

Or, if I was the gamemaster, he yelled at me for not answering him “properly” with a yes when I thought it deserved a no.  He thought I couldn’t decide for myself what I could say and what I couldn’t without breaking the rules.

Another abusive tactic: trying to make your spouse feel like she’s too stupid to function without you.  And I have never wanted to play this game since, because it reminds me of him treating me like an idiot.

****

One night, he told me he’d been doing a “points” thing while driving to work.  He would think of things for me and things against me.

One thing against me was that I wasn’t Catholic.  That insulted me.  It shouldn’t be a point against to be Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox; they’re all Christian.

As Sharon later told me, once you’re engaged, it’s time to stop the dating “point system.”  It’s doubly time when you’re married.

My parents complained about him a lot at dinner these days.  Just various things, like he shouldn’t make so much noise at night, or he should do such-and-such.

I tried to quiet him at night, especially when we were in the kitchen, but he still often talked loud.  Sometimes I tried to defend him; sometimes I could think of nothing to say.

****

Sometimes we played D&D in the family room, sometimes in my room.  D&D was so much fun that I wanted to play it most nights.

I liked playing Phoena, though she had to fight nasty creatures a lot, and I wished sometimes that Phil would concentrate more on the little romances he put into adventures than on battles.

Fury, a peaceful druid, did not have the skills to adventure in dangerous territory on her own, yet Phil insisted on having her gain some skill levels before she met Phoena.

(Why didn’t he just let me roll her at a higher level, instead of starting her out at first?  That’s how now-hubby Cugan would have done it, and it makes more sense.)

Phil stuck her in a dungeon, and with the limitations of NVLD, I didn’t know what to do to get her out of it.

Phil gave me no help understanding how to play a druid.  Instead he got mad at me and yelled at me like I was stupid, then said, “She gets depressed and dies.”

I got upset and he took it back, but we no longer played her.  (I played her later in one of Cugan’s games.)

(Poor Phoena: Every game she’s in, dies.  First this game ended when Phil and I divorced.  Then I tried her again in a game with one of Cugan’s friends, but that game ended after one time.  Then I finally pulled her back out again to play in my friend Richard‘s game, only to be betrayed by him and discover that he was not really my friend, so that game ended as well.)

Phil spent all his free time just sitting and playing computer games.  It was boring to sit there and watch him, so I’d usually read, since I wanted to be with him.

Dad had the game Lemmings, and it was fun to watch Phil play it.

I tried to play it once, and asked Phil to help me learn it because he said he was great at figuring out the puzzles in each level.

I just asked him to help me learn how to play, but he told me how to solve everything, and got mad if I didn’t figure out the levels right away.  That wasn’t what I asked him to do!

One level was especially perplexing: This big column-thing was in the way of the Lemmings, and you could only bash it in the direction opposite the one in which the Lemmings were going.

Phil told me to time some bombers perfectly and get a bunch of Lemmings digging at perfectly placed intervals along the top of the column-thing, to obliterate it from the top down.

It was impossible to place them so well that there would be no leftover slivers to block the Lemmings, but he insisted I do it this way, and became furious with me for not doing it right.

On December 23, I played that level on my own, and discovered how much better and easier the game was for me without Phil standing over me and telling me how to think.

I came to the level with the big column-thing.  Phil had insisted I solve this the hard way, the nearly-impossible way–

–when all I needed to do was send a couple of crawling Lemmings over the column, make one of them a blocker so the other one would turn back around and become a basher, then the basher would bash through the column and make a nice tunnel for all the other Lemmings to go through.

Blow up the blocker, and all the other Lemmings will march through and make it safely home.

He tried so hard to make me feel like an idiot, yet once I got out of his influence, my true smarts became clear.

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:

 

How Phil’s behavior fit the signs of abuse–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–August 1994, Part 2

Phil feared my parents didn’t like him so much anymore.  I didn’t want to believe it, but they did complain about him at the dinner table while he was off at work, and grumble about something he was doing or not doing. They seemed more and more irritated with him all the time.

****

Once, Phil admitted that he didn’t like to be wrong, said that men don’t like to be wrong, even when they are wrong.  But my dad wasn’t like that, and Phil acted as if he should keep being right.  He projected this onto me, accusing me of doing it.

Of course, I had faults of my own; I was still young, and did not understand many things about men and effective arguing.  But this did not excuse Phil’s emotional, verbal and sexual abuse.

Though it took some time for me to recognize it, his treatment of me fit the necessary traits for abuse, not just “borderline abuse” as I called it for a few years.  It wasn’t everything on these lists, but a good share of them:

http://www.lilaclane.com/relationships/emotional-abuse/

What is abuse?

(I also give many more links here.)

Remember the traits listed in these links.  They will come up again and again over the next several chapters, and you will recognize them.  All the articles list various things Phil did, but to simplify, the last article’s section on Overt Abuse is a basic list of what he did, bolding the traits I remember:

The open and explicit abuse of another person. Threatening, coercing, beating, lying, berating, demeaning, chastising, insulting, humiliating, exploiting, ignoring (“silent treatment”), devaluing, unceremoniously discarding, verbal abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse are all forms of overt abuse.

Going further in that article by Sam Vaknin, Impossible Situations can also fit the tricks he played, pretending to talk and act in his sleep and the big “subconscious” hoax, fitting the requirements I bolded:

Impossible Situations

The abuser engineers impossible, dangerous, unpredictable, unprecedented, or highly specific situations in which he is sorely needed.

The abuser makes sure that his knowledge, his skills, his connections, or his traits are the only ones applicable and the most useful in the situations that he, himself, wrought. The abuser generates his own indispensability.

After all, if you are intrigued by supernatural, psychic or psychological phenomena and your significant other begins displaying such things, you won’t want to leave him, because any other guy seems boring by comparison.

I don’t know if Peter did this, too; I can’t say one way or the other, because he did believe in UFOs, ESP and other psychic phenomena, and could have actually believed what he told me about his psychic abilities, our Link, and his ninjitsu training.  Or it could all have been an elaborate fabrication, as some people believed.

Another means of Phil’s Impossible Situation is obvious: our secret marriage.  Since I believed in the lifelong bonds of marriage, he had an easy way to hold me: Every time he screwed up, I decided to forgive him, so I would not divorce him and “commit adultery.”

I was the one who came up with the idea for a secret marriage, not him; for him, the idea and the means of control dropped into his lap, just the same as Clarissa throwing herself into Lovelace’s protection when her family tried to force her to marry the “odious Solmes.”

(As an aside, the last link‘s sections on Impossible Situations and Control by Proxy are the basic plot of Clarissa.  Also, the Abuse of Information section matches the character Scott in my novella All Together Now, part of the Lighthouse collection.)

The Control by Proxy section also applied in September, when Phil used his friend Dirk as a tool to control me:

If all else fails, the abuser recruits friends, colleagues, mates, family members, the authorities, institutions, neighbours, the media, teachers – in short, third parties – to do his bidding.

He uses them to cajole, coerce, threaten, stalk, offer, retreat, tempt, convince, harass, communicate and otherwise manipulate his target.

He controls these unaware instruments exactly as he plans to control his ultimate prey. He employs the same mechanisms and devices. And he dumps his props unceremoniously when the job is done.

In 2006/7, I found an article which discussed the reasons why women stay in abusive relationships.  It’s not about low self-esteem or lack of assertiveness, as many people might think.

I disagree with the advice given out by some of our advice columnists and popular TV counselors (like Dr. Phil): It’s false that you “teach people how to treat you,” that continued abuse is your own fault for staying in the relationship.  That’s victim-blaming.

No one is to blame for abuse except the abuser.  If it were so easy to pick up and leave, the abused spouses would have done so long before.  Sometimes, the abuse worsens if you try to leave, and you could end up dead.

In my case, it was a combination of the marriage vows and “honeymoon periods,” or times when the abuser apologizes, the abuse stops and everything seems wonderful.  According to this website, “the moral courage of targets is demonstrated by their ability to withstand abuse for months, and sometimes years, but still remain determined to resolve the conflict.”

Many of the reasons listed here are similar to why a spouse will stay in such a relationship.

****

Over the months of our relationship, Phil often said he was a woman trapped in a man’s body.  One Sunday afternoon in the van on the way to church, he started talking all macho.  I don’t remember now what he said, but I said in disgust,

“You don’t sound like a woman trapped in a man’s body.”  I said he sounded more like one of those macho men he always harangued against.

He said in a temper, “Okay, maybe I am one.”

I didn’t like that, of course, because I didn’t want a macho man.

At least once when I wanted to get something I needed, or that we needed, he refused and chided me for not driving there myself–no simple task for many of us with visual-spatial and other learning disorders: Driving and its visual bombardment scares me.  I get lost easily, and then panic, especially going somewhere I’ve never been to before.

It seemed that practically every day I was in tears.  Mom sometimes noticed my red eyes, but said nothing.

More and more often, Phil yelled at me, I defended myself, and he disappeared into the guest room, stonewalling me.  This bugged me to no end.

It seemed like, in his eyes, I could never be right or disagree with him over anything.  It was like he thought he had to be in control and I had to submit, and he’d get upset if this didn’t happen.

During the spring semester, Candice heard him yelling at me in Krueger lounge, and didn’t like that one bit.  (She told me this a couple of years later, after I’d long since forgotten what he yelled about.)  Now it happened more and more often.

Of course I don’t remember now what we argued about, but I do remember arguing at least part of the time about sex, whether or not to have it some night, whether or not it would be anal or oral, and that we’d also argue about religion.

He didn’t like that I refused to convert to Catholicism or say “obey” in the marriage vows.  (When we said them before in our secret wedding, he tried to prod me into saying “obey,” but I didn’t do it.  And I wasn’t going to do it legally, either.)

We probably argued about moral issues as well, and underage drinking may have been one issue.

There was the issue of when he was to get up in the morning: He slept until two p.m., so he had no time for breakfast (besides a Little Debbie snack cake), a shower or brushing his teeth before work.

We had no time together before he left, and he wouldn’t do any of the things he could only do in the afternoon (like getting his brakes checked).

I’d want to be with him after a long evening with my parents, and he’d want to be alone.  I expected that he wanted sex every night, just as before, and he seemed to want it all the time.  But how did he tell me different?  Not with some gentle, loving explanation, but with a spat-out, “Not every night!”

I’m sure there were other things, things I no longer remember.

St. John Chrysostom said “a good marriage is not a matter of one partner obeying the other, but of both partners obeying each other.”  While “the husband giving orders, and the wife obeying them” is “appropriate in the army, it is ridiculous in the intimate relationship of marriage” (p. 72, On Living Simply).

Chrysostom says they are obedient to each others’ needs and feelings.  He also said that a harsh master, using angry words and threats, causes obedience but not attachment in a slave, who will run away the first chance he gets.  “How much worse it is for a husband to use angry words and threats to his wife.”

Chrysostom goes on to describe the situation that, even in our modern age, still plays itself out every day: a husband shouting, demanding obedience to his every whim, even using violence.

But this treatment turns wives into “sullen servants, acting as their husbands require out of cold fear.  Is this the kind of union you want?  Does it really satisfy you to have a wife who is petrified of you?  Of course not.”

Such behavior may make the husband feel better for the moment, “but it brings no lasting joy or pleasure.  Yet if you treat your wife as a free woman, respecting her ideas and intuitions, and responding with warmth to her feelings and emotions, then your marriage shall be a limitless source of blessing to you” (p. 74).

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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