Our kitty has cancer :(

We just found out our beloved, sweet kitty Merry has cancer, and it’s spreading.  🙁

Before the test results came back, she appeared to be doing better after surgery, and they thought she did not have cancer.  We hoped she could come home Friday or Saturday, and I was looking forward to seeing her again.

But now it doesn’t sound good at all.  She would have two miserable months to live.  On Saturday we say good-bye to her.  Sad day here.  🙁

http://www.vetinfo.com/feline-adenocarcinoma-explained.html

 

Update 6/1/14: We said good-bye to her Saturday morning at the vet’s.  She was so happy to see us.  She purred and meowed at us.  She and my son have been BFFs since they were both kittens.  She was 11 years old, a senior citizen but not yet “old.”

It broke my heart to walk away from her, knowing we would never see her again.

But if we didn’t put her to sleep, she would have two months left to live–tops–and spend them in misery.  There was no other humane choice.

I miss her so much.

Pip n Merry

(She’s the gray one on the right.)

 

And one more lie from Wormtongue falls crashing to the ground (gaslighting)

I posted this on Facebook the other day.  I post it here as an example of how abusers gaslight you–but that you must not believe it:

Just had a Writer’s Club meeting on journaling/diaries. Also mentioned was the treasure trove of a deceased mother’s letters: both to and from people, because she saved drafts of the letters she wrote.

We were encouraged to keep journals of our lives, to save letters.

It was healing and affirming for me: I have saved journals and letters to/from people ever since I was a kid.

It’s a record of my life, a place to vent and sort out, a place to remember.

My letters to people record things I have done and thought, while letters from friends are to be treasured, not tossed out like trash. The letters are all part of the journal.

I am an introvert who needs to reflect.

I have always admired Laura Ingalls Wilder, but knew that I could not write memoirs like hers without keeping records.

I also want to have this record in case my memories fade in old age.

One day, my ex-friend Richard found out about this. So publicly on his blog, and then the next day in person, he called me “creepy” for saving all my letters. Tracy even made fun of me for it!

Then there was Shawn from college, who scolded me for keeping a diary. He said that important memories should not be written down. He also psychologically abused me, so I think these people were just scared of what might be in my journals.

As I heard today (and already knew), my archives/journals are perfectly normal–especially for writers–and encouraged. The saving of memories is considered valuable, whether for yourself or for posterity.

I must drain the poison of psychological abuse, not allow myself to take any of it to heart and spoil this wonderful thing I have always loved to do.

My friends said things like, “I do the same thing,” it’s beautiful to save letters/journals, who cares what other people think about what you do with your own life.  The president of the club wrote, “Nicely said, Nyssa.”

And THAT is what real friends say to you.  They encourage you, don’t try to tear you down.  Even if they criticize you, you can tell they have your best interests at heart.  Many times, good friends have criticized me, but they are still my friends, and I realize why they said what they did, even if I disagree.

Maybe once in a while a good friend has indeed been too harsh, but this was a rare event in a normally loving friendship, so I can let it go–and it does not repeat itself.

In the cases of Richard and Tracy, and Shawn, the “friendship” was abusive, so the attacks were repeated, whether covert (little things said or gestures that shake your confidence) or overt (rages, angry criticism).

It also demonstrates to me just how entrenched I was in Richard’s narcissistic web.

Somehow he had me so anxious to have his good opinion that when he’d gaslight me like this–tell me some normal behavior (for writers/introverts/NVLDers/Americans/Christians) was “creepy” or “wrong” or “offensive”–it would devastate me.

I would resist and feel the need to defend myself, while some small part of me would think, “What if he’s right?”

But right here is a perfect example that no, he’s NOT right.  That he did NOT have my best interests at heart, that he and Tracy were trying to warp my mind.

I post here so that others can see a real-life example of gaslighting, recognize it in their own lives, and resist the lies of Wormtongue.  Don’t let those lies hamper your resolve to get away from the abuse, or work their poison in your mind long after the abuser is gone.

For an excellent fictional example of what abusers do to your mind, see Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, and how Wormtongue spun a deceitful web around a king, until the king was emotionally crippled and unable to fight.  This is what your own abuser is doing to you, so slowly you don’t notice it.

Even now I sometimes feel the effects of all the Wormtongues I’ve encountered through the years.  But over time, their webs are disintegrating and falling away, leaving my mind clear and able to recognize what they were doing.

I no longer feel the need to defend myself in my mind against Richard and Tracy calling me “creepy” for saving my letters.  There is no need, because what they said was absolutely ridiculous.  If I could haul them in front of the Writer’s Club, they would get thoroughly chastised for spewing such rubbish.

Phil Spreads Lies About Me–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–December 1994, Part 2

This probably happened between December 5 and 12, though not the Friday before December 12: My choir friends went to a church to practice for their upcoming tour.  They would perform Handel’s Messiah in churches, including the Hallelujah chorus–most impressive of all.  They weren’t going to do it at Roanoke, so this was my only chance to hear them.

I came along to help Pearl with her wheelchair, because my friends said I should come and watch the practice.  I believe they first practiced in the sanctuary, but for some reason I wasn’t in there.

Instead, I stayed nearby and wandered around a bit.  It’s quite possible they went there just to do the Hallelujah chorus, and I wasn’t able to go in there, but went looking for the bathroom.

Later, they moved to a choir room.  Just as my friends suspected, the choir director didn’t mind me watching.  Somebody said she’d love it.

I felt a bit uncomfortable having to face the choir as I listened, the only place I could sit, and I flipped through a Life magazine while I listened to keep from looking at them and feeling weird.

But the singing was lovely.  I don’t think I’d ever heard the choir sing better.  The choir director asked me, and I told her how wonderful it sounded.

(Phil wasn’t in the choir this year, so I didn’t have to deal with him.  He had been trying to get away from the Singers and the choir, though the director wanted to keep him in.)

Remember Ned, the tall blond who flirted with every girl who moved, dated Catherine for a while, then dated Melissa, and did Virtual Reality shows with Darryl?  He was there, though he’d graduated, because he was in the S– Symphony Orchestra that accompanied the choir during the tour.  He came over once and hugged Pearl.

****

One day, Clarissa showed me a weird cartoon called Two Stupid Dogs.  I’m almost certain that’s where this line came from for Dolphin Philosophy: “I’m your friend.  You don’t eat your friends!”

****

We had InterVarsity meetings every Tuesday in the Muskie conference room.  We ate dinner there together.  On December 6, Persephone said at the meeting,

“I’m going to break up with Phil.  His parents have been harassing me.  They keep calling every half-hour looking for him when he’s not in my room.  I’ve had mono, but they act like I’m not really sick because I’m up and around now.”

Mike said at one Tuesday meeting that he got a totally unexpected letter from a high school friend he hadn’t heard from in years.  This made me think I should start writing letters to my old high school friends, just out of the blue, like that girl did.  So I wrote a few, though none of them wrote back.

****

Cindy wanted to set up Tara with Randy, but was afraid to because she also tried to set up two people back in freshman or sophomore year.  I didn’t know much about that, but heard it was a big fiasco, and the two people ended up hating each other.

To our surprise, Tara had never met Randy before.  One night during Winterim, Sharon and I tried to reassure her that he was cute and a nice guy.

I had all my Roanoke yearbooks there in my room, so Sharon and I went through them to find pictures of him to show to her.  We finally found his freshman year Cross Country and Track picture, the best we could find.

Tara and Randy decided to meet in the computer lab one night before going out on a date.

They liked each other, and Randy said to Cindy, “She’s so sweet!”  Cindy asked Tara for Randy, “Do you like Bryan Adams?”  Tara loved Bryan Adams.

They had a few other things in common, too.  I said with a smile, “Sounds like a perfect match!”

They decided to start dating, and Tara dressed up for her first date in great anxiety.  She still feared they wouldn’t like each other.  Pearl and Sharon went to her and Pearl said,

“Tara, we’ve decided to live vicariously through you.”  They, like me, had trouble getting dates, and wanted to know everything that happened on Tara and Randy’s date.

The first date must have gone well, because not only did they become a couple, they got married in 1997.  For the rest of senior year, Randy was a common guest in the apartment, which we welcomed–since, after all, Tara never had to kick her roommies out of her bedroom.

****

On the 10th, I wrote a paper for American Lit titled, Richardson and Dickinson–Two “Feminist” Writers.  I noted that both writers–though Samuel Richardson had a different idea of what a proper wife “should” do–depicted

women as capable on their own, and happiness in marriage does not necessarily occur.  Both portrayed women as quite able to be equal to men, if only given the chance.  Such concepts were quite unusual for the day.

Though Richardson’s view of a wife’s role was more traditional, he hardly expected women to be just ornamental or silly, unreasoning creatures.  His novel Clarissa depicted an intellectual and pious young woman, who often acted wisely, though at times she was trapped by her own piety.

For example, her friend Anna Howe noted that if she had not been such a dutiful and sweet-tempered daughter, her family would never have thought they could force her to marry “the odious Solmes.”  She said, in modern terms, that you teach people how to treat you.

Clarissa’s mother, though a perfectly submissive wife, was also trapped by her submission, because she became a doormat, depended on by the rest of the family to submit to anything her husband required her to do.

She felt obliged to go along with her husband when he decided, on his son’s advice, to force Clarissa to marry a contemptible man who offended all her sensibilities.  (Think Wormtail from the Harry Potter series, only with money and land.)

Clarissa agreed that she would have to submit to her husband–but she at least wanted a husband who was worth submitting to and trusting.  Richardson obviously felt women should decide whom to marry, and not just have it decided for them.

Dr. Nelson wrote on my paper, “I’m impressed by your reading–the amount you’ve read and your impassioned condemnation of standards women had to live up to in the 18th and 19th centuries.”

He also wrote that I needed to expand my analysis.  He wrote, “There’s definitely a senior honors thesis to be done here–‘Rebellious women in 18th and 19th century Anglo-American Literature’ or some such.”

****

On the 11th, Anna told me she was wrong about the guy she thought God planned for her to marry!  She had all these “proofs” that God was telling her to marry him, yet he was going out with other girls, not her.

Still, for the past couple of years, she believed he would one day be hers.  Then she found out in November that he was engaged–to someone else.

That’s when she realized it was the Devil’s lies and not God at all.  This also shook my faith in my own fleeces about Phil.

****

By December 15 I sent Mike the following note:

Querido Miguel,

¿Tienes mucho hambre?  ¿Tienes mucha cumtha?  Tienes muy guapos ojanaddiz.  No estas un dorcos pero un uchasosio.

Estrella

I signed it “Estrella” to hide who I was, since you don’t need a return address for on-campus mail.  The meaning was,

“Are you very hungry? Do you have a lot of (Nonsense word: food)?  You have very handsome (nonsense word: eyes + nose).  You are not a (nonsense word: dork) but a (nonsense word: U.C.C. member).”

Yes, it was a joke, something he couldn’t translate.  Pearl told me he went mad trying to translate it, and wondered why someone would send him that.  He soon found out who sent him the message.

I also sent this to Astrid around the same time, and signed it with the name I picked for myself in German class in high school:

Liebe Astrid,

Guten Tag, meine Freundin!  Bist du gut aufgelegt?  Hoffentlich hast du ein guten Tag.  Und hier ist ein gutes Lied:

Mein Hut, er hat drei Ecken,
Drei Ecken hat mein Hut.
Hat er nicht drei Ecken,
Er ist nicht mein Hut!

Jutta-Uschi

It meant, “Hello, my friend!  Are you in a good mood?  Hopefully you’re having a good day.  And here is a good song:”

The following is an actual, German drinking song, which Frau taught my German class:

“My hat, it has three corners, / Three corners has my hat. / If it doesn’t have three corners, / It is not my hat!”

I received many Christmas cards with wonderful messages.  My favorites:

From Sharon: “I really enjoy having you as a roomie.  You’re a great person–one of the most unique people I know.  I thank God for friends like you.”

From Mike: “Who hatched the egg that [our teacher] laid?  We did!”

****

Charles knew Phil, who kept trying to be friends with him, but Charles thought he was trying too hard.  Charles didn’t like people pushing to be his friend.

I talked with Pearl the night of the fifteenth, and she told me that Randy had started to be good friends with Phil now.

Randy used to be friends with Peter freshman year, before Peter started smoking weed and embarrassed Randy at a family function by bragging about it.

It seemed like some sort of requirement that my exes be friends with each other and with Randy at some point, and that they join the Zetas (which Charles did in the spring).  It was weird.

But then, I guess that’s small-college life for you.  Fortunately, Randy didn’t seem to like or stay friends with Phil for long.

I feared that Randy’s friendship with my exes explained why he didn’t want to date me, that they poisoned his mind against me with lies.  But Cindy set him up with Tara, and they eventually got married, so it no longer mattered anyway.

Cindy told Pearl that Randy told her that Phil said I forced him to go to Indiana and stay there for the summer, that my parents wanted to check him out and see if they wanted him to keep dating me.

This blatant lie shocked me.  I wanted to confront him about this as soon as possible.

I already wanted him to get out of my life and go far away where I would never see or hear of him again.  I did not want him back anymore.  But this was the last straw that sent me over the edge; I wanted the controlling and abuse to stop once and for all.

I didn’t see him, so I wrote a note.  Furious, I mailed it without letting it sit for long, which I shouldn’t have done, since I wrote some things that were mean, not just righteously angry.

I still regret them, and did later apologize for them, when I found him online years later.

But among the mean things, I wrote many things I never regretted, because they confronted him with the lies he kept spreading about me.  Sometimes such letters must be sent to get closure.

I told him what I just heard, that he knew it was a lie, and if he kept lying, I would report him to Memadmin.

I said I’d been trying to forgive him, but he wasn’t making it any easier.

I said I was sick of his abuse and being his scapegoat for what went wrong.  

I did give him a chance to tell me if the report I heard was wrong, but I also wrote, “Leave me and my life alone.”  Though I didn’t think of calling him a stalker, I probably could have justifiably.

Over Christmas Break, I worried whenever I thought of the note, whether it was really justified, and what would be the results.

When I got back to school, I kept expecting to open my mailbox to a scathing reply, but got nothing.  No defense, no cries of being unjustly accused.  Just complete and utter silence–not even to say hi or nod when we passed on the sidewalk.

I later learned that the school counselor (bless her heart) told him to stay away from me.  Finally, peace!

He told Pearl he didn’t say those things.

But I don’t believe him because, as I told you in the July & August 1994 chapter, one day over the summer he went on and on, reproaching me about the things he gave up to stay with me over the summer.  Though I never forced him to stay with me, he talked that day as if I had.  

And I’ve also shown you in the September 1994 chapter how he pretended to be depressed and lied to Dirk because he wanted Dirk and his roommates to feel a certain way.  He told his friends lies about me, lies which kept coming back to me, so why wouldn’t I believe he said this as well?  

I knew he used his acting ability to lie and manipulate.  Why wouldn’t he do the same to Pearl?

Once, right after I got back in January, I saw him sitting alone with Persephone, in a solitary part of the cafeteria.  He saw me.  He sat all hunched over and upset-like, his head down and his fists up to his shoulders.

Ever since then, he gave me weird looks when he saw me.  Like he felt guilty or was mad at me or just didn’t know what to say to me–I really don’t know which.

For a while, even Persephone seemed to look at me oddly, almost as if she feared to talk to me or something.  Then she talked to me sometimes, but I tried to avoid her.

I didn’t trust her.  I felt like she and certain others could be kind of like spies, whether they knew it or not: Anything I said or did around them could get reported to Phil, so I tried to guard myself around them and avoid them.

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:

 

 

Moving On and Meeting the Vampire–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–December 1994, Part 1

No, I haven’t slipped and mixed up my college memoirs with my vampire fiction.  You’ll see what I mean later on.

Though the residents of each apartment had been given a bucket with cleaning supplies in the fall, the supplies were woefully inadequate.  One of the many inadequacies: There was no drain stopper for the sink, making it hard to do dishes.

So after Thanksgiving, along with the other cleaning supplies I brought, I brought a plastic drain stopper.  Unfortunately, while making mac and cheese one Saturday morning, I thoughtlessly poured the hot water into the sink with the stopper in it.  It melted one side of the stopper and warped it, so we couldn’t use it anymore.

But after Christmas Break I brought back a new one, so our water wouldn’t drain out anymore.

After Thanksgiving Break, I also cleaned the bathroom before my roommies returned.  We heard rumors that the cleaning people would do that over Break.  But I, the first person back, saw they didn’t.

I turned on New Rock 102 as I used my newly-bought bottle of Lysol and washable bathroom rags.  Before, all we had were glass cleaner and sponges to clean the toilet and sinks, so horribly unsanitary!

When Tara and Pearl came back, I unpacked in my room and waited for them to notice the clean bathroom.  Tara soon cried, “It smells so clean!”  They thought the cleaning people did it, but I told them it was me, and showed them our wonderful new cleaning supplies.

One day, I tried to vacuum the apartment, but the vacuum just spit everything back out again.  None of us knew at the time that this just meant the bag was full and needed to be changed.  We thought the vacuum was broken, and stopped using it.  So forget the stereotype that housecleaning is genetically programmed into women.

In the weeks that followed, dust bunnies and hairballs collected and multiplied on the floor, until we were finally told what was wrong with the vacuum.

****

Mike kept playing classic/90s rock stations in his car as he drove us around, so I began to get a taste for that.  I liked it somewhat before, but not as much as I did now.  Some of it I still didn’t like much, but I got into songs by Ozzy Osbourne and others.  “No More Tears” kept playing, and I thought it was new, but later found it was actually from 1992.

I couldn’t stand WIXX anymore.  I had to play dance station Hot 102, or (its new name and format) New Rock 102.1, or Lazer 103 or 93Q, or my Christian tapes and CD’s.  I couldn’t stand what they called pop music in those days: It was so inane, dull, slow or strange (and not strange in a good way).

****

Sharon watched Babylon 5.  I saw my first episode of it with her, the one in which Lando wants to choose between his three wives and divorce two of them.  I thought it was funny.

I was also surprised, because when the show first started sophomore year, I looked at the promos and thought it was just a rip-off of both Dune and Deep Space 9.  I saw similarities in the concept, the name, Lando’s look, etc.

Clarissa watched it and tried to tell me it wasn’t like that, that it was actually very good and won awards, but I still didn’t want to watch it.  I don’t remember if I watched it again with Sharon, but I did start watching it later on with Cugan.  I loved it now.

Sharon and Tara kept having little “spats.”  One jokingly yelled at the other, and they got into a big, fake argument.  Or, as they sat on the couch, Sharon, who loved to put her head on people’s shoulders, put it on Tara’s.  Tara cried out and told her not to.  Sharon just laughed, and here came another “spat.”

Then there was Sharon herself.  She’d often hum, sing or sigh.  She had a funny sigh, which went from a high pitch down to a low pitch.  She said it often came while she was sad or deep in thought.  It was the Sharon sigh, a Sharon-ism, as we called it.

Every once in a while, Sharon got into giggle fits.  Though nothing particularly funny happened, she started giggling.  Sometimes it was infectious, and Pearl or someone else giggled with her.  She couldn’t explain it.

After one of our recent snows, Sharon started the habit of throwing snowballs at her roommates as we went to the Campus Center for meals.  Whether we all walked together or met each other on the way, the threat of getting hit with a snowball was imminent.  We often tried to retaliate.

I don’t know where it came from, but we took on a new catchphrase: “Rude, crude and socially unacceptable!”

Mike was now my major crush–and Sharon’s.  The girl he liked didn’t like him back, which made us both happy.  We were in a friendly rivalry, and if either of us won, the other would be happy for her.

At the beginning of the semester I wanted to live in S– after graduation, but now I decided to return home to South Bend instead.  I wanted to get away from Phil and Persephone for good, leave their memory in the dust, and go somewhere where they would never be.  Life would go on as if they’d never existed.  No South Benders would know them, and they would have no effect on anything.

Tara started calling Sharon “Aron-Shay,” her name in Pig Latin. She’d walk into the apartment and yell for Aron-Shay.  (It sounds even better with Sharon’s real name.)

Sometime that year, Sharon the Psych Major spoke of reinforcing a person’s behavior by rewarding the good things he does.  She said she would do this with her future husband: If he did something she liked, she’d reinforce his behavior with sex.

Ever after, whenever any of us spoke of “reinforcing his behavior,” it was a metaphor for sex, and we laughed.  If someone spoke of reinforcing the behavior of someone other than her future husband, even if she didn’t mean sex, our reaction was, “Eww!” or “Ooo!”

I already dressed nicely, but now I did it for Mike, to get his attention.  I was starting to want Phil back less and less, and want Mike instead.

Sometime in December, after driving our group somewhere, Mike drove us around H– so we could see the lovely Christmas lights on the houses.  He also showed us the house of a Roanoke teacher, who was his uncle.

Once, possibly after we stopped at the Buschwood Bar for a while (more on Buschwood later), he drove us on a lonely, country road.  We got lost.  It was great.

One day, we passed the cars in the parking lot, which were covered in snow.  Pearl drew a smiley face–her “signature”–in the snow on the window of one of the cars.

Sometime that year, the show Friends began playing on NBC.  Having no idea that it would be wildly popular the next year, I began watching it.  I thought it was funny and liked the theme song.  (Of course, a couple years later, when it became omnipresent on the radio, it began to annoy me.)

When Ross said how much he wished Rachel would realize he was the kind of guy she said she was looking for, I began hoping they would start dating.  I also liked the monkey.  It was several years yet before the show jumped the shark and started annoying me.

I’m not sure when exactly it jumped the shark, just that the jokes became forced, Ross became a dweeb, and even Phoebe turned mean.  I think it was some time around 2001.

We wanted to give Mike a nickname, and decided on “Flip” because he was always, well, flipping, falling over, things like that.  But his mom would have none of it.  She said, “We named you Mike after Michael in the Bible, and we want you called Mike.”

Mike danced like a muppet, and years later I saw on Facebook that he loves the Muppets, so it all fits.

****

On the Friday just before December 4, I went out shopping with Pearl, Mike and Tara.  After getting something to eat at Country Kitchen, we all went to Buschwood, a classy, yuppie bar.  I remember it as the Red Bar, because everything was red and new.

My friends were excited about being able to go to bars now (no, they never used fake ID).  I was curious, but I think they got more out of it than I did.

Mike (our driver) and I had Coke.  Pearl and I went to the bathroom, came back, I tasted my Coke–and it tasted sweeter than it should.  Mike, the future preacher, had gotten Tara to spike my Coke with her Blue Hawaii!

I liked it too much and didn’t want to start drinking, still being the Nazarene teetotaler, so I didn’t touch my Coke afterwards.

(As it turns out, I wouldn’t have liked drinking anyway.  I recently tried some Zinfandel and a wine cooler.  I can’t stand the taste of alcohol or the burn as it goes down.)

I think we went there at least one more time.  We were shocked to not get carded, especially with Mike wearing his high-school jacket.

At least one of the times, Mike tripped, fell and even broke a glass–and he was drinking only water.  It was as if he were drunk on water.  One time he even said, “Don’t worry, I’m driving.”  I think once my friends wanted me to drive instead, but I said they wouldn’t want that because I hadn’t driven in years.

****

Sharon and I took up the habit of “-ness”ing back and forth to each other when we walked to the Campus Center and it was cold.  That is, we’d say, “Coldness!”  “Freezingness!”  “Brrness!”

Randy, Mike and I had Intro to Christianity together.

I liked both of them, sometimes one more than another, and I kept hoping, back when I dated Charles, that they wouldn’t think I was “off-limits.”

Liking Mike was frustrating, so instead I asked him to set me up with Randy.  But he didn’t set me up, just gave me his number.  I felt like, “Yeah, right, just call Randy up and have him think I’m a crazy woman, calling him up when we don’t even know each other very well.”

I’d known Randy since freshman year, but not very well: He’d always been Peter’s friend or Cindy’s friend (and now, apparently, Phil’s friend), and we never had classes together until now.

One day, when Sharon and I worked at the circulation desk together, I told her I liked Randy.  He came in the library and talked with me about a class assignment, then said with a smile, “See you in class.”  Sharon saw all this and said after he left, “Ooh, I think he likes you!  Did you hear the way he said, ‘See you in class’?”

I sent him a Christmas card, not all gushy or mushy or anything or admitting my feelings, but a friendly card.  I hoped it would be a first step toward dating him.

Just look at this difference: After Peter, I was afraid to actually pursue anyone except Shawn.  But this time, after Phil, I pursued guys in various ways, rather than sitting around waiting for Phil to come back.

On the 5th, I wrote in the Journal,

I have been feeling better lately, but I do still have my down times.  My dreams sometimes oppress me, and there’s a sad undercurrent much of the time for me.

But the weird thing is, I’m often happy, or at least cheerful, at the same time.  It seems like I get rid of one guy-problem and then another one pops up.

I hope they stop popping up, one of these days.  I’m really sick of them.  My life here is such a soap opera, and just as twisted… I keep wishing P. would disappear from the face of the earth….

A paper I wrote for American Literature, “Richardson and Dickinson–Two ‘Feminist’ Writers,” shows the evolution of my thinking since marriage to an abusive husband: 

First I agreed with voluntary submission, but not forced obedience.  Now, I was turning more and more feminist, beginning to reject the idea of submission altogether, except when it’s mutual (the husband and wife submitting to each other). 

My teacher suggested I turn my paper into my Senior Honors Thesis, for which he would be my adviser.

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:

 

Phariseeism in the Church

After reading the Gospels and Acts over again, and starting on Romans, I have noted things that often seem to be lost in today’s American church.  The church is consumed with legalism, legislating morality, and shutting the door of ministry and even the church to certain groups.  Instead, the church should be consumed with carrying out God’s redemptive purposes in the world.

In many ways, the modern church is just like the Pharisees.  The Pharisees were so obsessed with keeping the law that many of them looked down on those who broke the laws.  Not content with the laws they already had, they came up with more.

Christ came along and, rather than calling them righteous as they would have expected, accused them of neglecting what was really important.  He preached about following the spirit of the law.

For example, it was common for a man in those times to divorce his wife over trivial matters when the wife had done nothing wrong.  Since the law of Moses did not forbid divorce, a man might do what he liked, thinking he had circumvented the law against adultery.

But Christ taught that lusting after another woman, divorcing the wife who had done nothing wrong, and marrying the new woman was adultery.

The sin was compounded when the man did not even give his wife a certificate of divorce, which made her appear guilty in the eyes of the community, and brought the label “adulteress” on her if she tried to marry again (from text notes in Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, NASB).

Rather than putting us under a new law which might keep people in destructive marriages, Christ is instead showing us how to love our spouses rather than deserting them without cause.

Another example is Christ’s chiding of the Pharisees for tithing so exactly that they even tithed their mint, dill, cummin, rue and all kinds of herbs, but neglected justice, mercy, faith and the love of God (Luke 11:42, Matt. 23:23).

With this example, that of the temple tax, and that of the woman who gave her last coin to the temple, we see that we are not to tithe in such a way that every dime is counted, and then think we are righteous.

When collectors came asking Christ’s disciples for the two-drachma temple tax, which came from the law of Moses, Christ said that it is the populace who is taxed, but not the king’s children (Matt. 17:24-27).

Paul wrote, “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7).

Christ tells us he did not come to change the law, but to fulfill it.  This means he came to fulfill the law’s obligation for a sacrifice, one complete, perfect, final sacrifice which covered everything we ever did or will do (from text notes in Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible).

We are released from the necessity of following the law and offering up sacrifices for forgiveness of sins.

The apostles, recognizing the stifling nature of the law, further released the church from the law of Moses, including circumcision, requiring only that the members abstain from “things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood” (Acts 15:20).

Paul released us still further, saying that since idols are nothing, it does not matter if we eat something sacrificed to idols, though we should be mindful of how it would affect fellow Christians (1 Cor. 8).

The law was given to show us what sin is; without law, we cannot be held accountable for sin, even though we commit it (Rom. 5:13).  When we become aware of the law, we become accountable for it.

But Christ’s sacrifice and Yahweh’s grace mean that we can be justified, or declared righteous, even if we have committed and still commit every sin.

This does not mean we should continue to sin.  Should we be legalistic?  Will we lose our salvation if we sin?  No.  Rather, we have been feed from slavery to sin and should voluntarily choose the way of righteousness (Rom. 6).

What does this mean?  This means we are not to again put ourselves under the restraints of the law, which would also mean we will be judged by the law rather than grace (Gal. 2:15-3:14, Gal. 5:2-6, Rom. 2:12-16).

We must not place legalistic rules on ourselves: cut your hair, don’t cut your hair, wear only dresses, tithe ten percent of your gross income to your local church, obey your husband, don’t get a tattoo or dress in black, say anything you like as long as you don’t cuss, belong to this particular denomination or you are not saved, don’t drink alcohol, don’t go to movies, don’t dance, don’t go to that apostate mainline church, don’t let your children go to public school, don’t believe anything science tells you, don’t go trick-or-treating or read Harry Potter books or you will be practicing witchcraft!

Not only do we place ourselves under this law, but we begin to condemn others for not following it, exactly as the Pharisees did.  Not only does this place us back under a law which Yahweh never gave us, but the world begins to view the church not as a place of love, but as a place of ridiculous restrictions, even hatred for those who are different.  As it is written in Matthew 23:13-15:

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven.  For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

Another verse, Romans 2:24, carries on this theme, referring to those who require others to follow the law without following it themselves: “For, as it is written, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.'”

This goes to the point of legislating morality.  Not only do we make ourselves follow laws that Yahweh never put us under, but we try to force unbelievers to follow the same laws.  We do not acknowledge the freedom this country gives to all religious groups, not just our own.

We are also all guilty of judging unbelievers for sinning.  We are not to do this (1 Cor. 5:12-13).

Christ did not come as a politician, but as a spiritual leader.  He acknowledged the sins of a sinner, and said to sin no more, but did not call upon the Romans or the religious leaders to punish that sinner.  Not only did he not try to change the law of Moses, but he did not even try to change the law of the Romans.

The facts of the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53-8:11) are disputed, since it was not in the earliest biblical manuscripts.  But it is consistent with Christ’s teachings and character to release her, rather than calling for her death under the law of Moses.  He instead wanted her to follow Yahweh voluntarily.

The church also has put restrictions on the Holy Spirit.  Some who are gifted for ministry or leadership are told not to follow through because they are not the right gender.  Some women have been called Jezebels for preaching or even for teaching a Sunday School class with men in it.

The words of Paul are twisted to put women in secondary status, despite the fact that Paul had fellow ministers, deacons and apostles who were women (Priscilla, Phoebe, Junia, Mary Magdalene, Rom. 16:1-7).  This disables a huge chunk of Christ’s workforce, and being under subservience to men puts a tremendous burden on women who have their own views, gifts and minds.

Do not give under compulsion, but what you decide in your heart to give.  Have compassion.  Fight injustice, not just for yourself but for others, such as the third world peasant who is being tortured and persecuted by military groups for having the wrong ideology or religion.  (American “persecution” pales in comparison.)

Have mercy on the lost.  Follow the three basic commandments which Christ gave us: Love God, love others, and spread the Gospel.  Give honor and praise to God because it is from your heart.

Spend less time watching for signs of the Tribulation, and more time watching out for the poor, needy and oppressed of America and the rest of the world.  Be a good steward of the earth.  Throw off legalism and become free in Christ to work for God’s redemptive purposes in the world.

(“The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.”)

[This was written around, I believe, 2004/2005, while I was Presbyterian (USA), before I became Orthodox.  I’m not sure what happened to it after I put it on my website: Did I delete it at some point? 

While I still agree with most of this post, some of the theological bits are slightly changed, such as the meaning of “justification,” which truly means to become righteous, not to be declared righteous.]

 

Pregnancy Scare–for real this time–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–November 1994, Part 6

Along with Mike, I liked Peter’s former friend Randy, and wondered if he liked me.  As for Phil–I didn’t like him all that much.  I hated him, in fact.  It would take a lot for him to get me back, if he were to try.

I couldn’t wait to go home for Thanksgiving Break and get away from all this, all these problems.

I had the same comfort as during the Peter-situation long ago–that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NKJV).

On the 18th, Dad was to pick me up to take me home.  He wasn’t supposed to arrive until about 6pm, so I asked Mike to study with me for Intro to Christianity.  Can you believe we had a test on the 28th, the first day of class after Thanksgiving Break?

When Mike showed up, he brought a high school friend, Brent.  He was all excited because he finally had a male friend again, not just us girls.  (I guess Phil no longer counted as his friend, after the way Phil treated me.)

I think Dad arrived more than ten minutes after Mike did.  Mike cried, “Hello, Nyssa’s dad!”  He amused my dad with his usual silliness.

Catherine later said that everyone in the world was destined to meet Mike, since he seemed to know everybody we ran into out and about.

I hoped to finally type up much of my novel/Senior Writing Project on the computer while at home for Thanksgiving.  I planned to do some major typing then and over Christmas.

I couldn’t get enough chapters to Counselor Dude because I forgot my Jerisland discs (3 1/2 discs, which the young people call old-fashioned, but we called newfangled).  I couldn’t type up the files for the first few weeks.  I was also still writing the novel.

Counselor Dude understood; he said we’d get the project done a little late, especially since he still would have to read it and it was big, but I would get a grade.

Writing the last chapters during the fall semester was burdensome and melancholy at times, but at the same time, a way to get away from the Phil-situation.  I could escape to the island.

While reading shelves with Sharon, not only did I find some interesting books on marriage and Egyptian hieroglyphics, but also Darwin’s book on coral atolls.  This was the book referenced by Collier’s Encyclopedia in the article “Atoll,” which I mentioned in the February 1994 chapter.

I also used my Botany books to find the identities of the trees and plants, which the article only called by their scientific names, and which were in no other books I could find.

And now, as of 2007, I can just plug any of these names in Google and find out what they are!  I love the Internet!

Benny was now brought home and put in my younger brother’s old room, where he eventually became my niece’s toy.  For several years, looking at this stuffed rabbit made me sad, even after moving on, and even though Peter’s presents no longer bothered me.  That’s how bad an impression Phil made on me.

Some songs from the time: “Vaseline” by Stone Temple Pilots; “Verse Chorus Verse” by Nirvana; “Love is Deeper Than Touch,” a Christian song from the summer by Andy Landis; “Over You” by David Meece; Gary Chapman’s “Heal Me,” which I could identify with.  (Check out these lyrics.  And that was long before the well-publicized divorce from Amy Grant!)

On the 20th, I spent many fun hours with my high school friend Becky.  It was good to enjoy myself and get away from the problems at school.  She’d had guy problems lately, and said I was better company than a guy.

Over Break I read Clotel: Or The President’s Daughter by William Wells Brown, the first novel written by an African-American black person, for American Lit.  The cover said it was “written and published by an escaped slave in 1853.”  Clotel was part black, the child of Thomas Jefferson.

She had a spiritual marriage with a white man.  This was the only way she could marry a white man, or marry anyone for that matter, since even slave marriages weren’t legally recognized.

The novelist considered her spiritual marriage a true marriage, and when the man left her to marry a rich white woman, he called him an adulterer.

I looked at this and saw my own situation: deserted by a man who said he was my husband.

I also considered Phil to be an adulterer if he ever slept with or married another.  This has since changed, of course, though I still consider him my first husband.

Thursday, November 24, Thanksgiving.  I was so looking forward to Thanksgiving week, to being home and away from all the crap going on at school.  But since I got home, I kept remembering Phil being there, living with my parents and me.  This saddened me.

I kept wondering if I was pregnant, looking in Dad’s CD-Rom encyclopedia for definitions of “common-law marriage,” how I could tell if I was pregnant and what the baby would look like now if I was pregnant, reading medical journals, and wondering if it would harm the baby to sit in front of the computer too much.  This all saddened me.

And on Thanksgiving I saw my brother and his wife–still together, of course, having gotten married that summer while Phil and I were engaged.  Even seeing their happiness while I was so sad, saddened me.  I wondered if I’d ever be in their place.

This sucked.  Now I just wanted to go back to school, and was glad I soon would.

My period started on day fifty-three!!! of my cycle, the latest I’d been in the past calendar year.  My usual cycle was about thirty-five days long, so you can see why this made me so anxious.  It turned out to be a normal, five-day period.

No, I didn’t try to get pregnant.  I would never have done such a thing just to keep Phil in my life.  And I’d had a period since the last time I was with him.

But you can imagine that skipping a period makes you anxious, makes you wonder if you had twin eggs and only one came out as a period, makes you wonder if it’s possible to have a period while pregnant.  And, well, it has been known to happen, especially in the first trimester….

And, well, fraternal twins with different fathers also happen for real.  And I heard twins were in my family, and knew nothing about hormonal imbalances.

So it was within the realm of possibility for me to have had two eggs, one which was fertilized, the other not.  Or for me to still have a period while pregnant.  My fear was justified.

On the 21st, I wrote in my diary:

I think I might be pregnant…this is the 15th day–two weeks–since my period was supposed to start.

And, according to Becky, it is possible to have at least one more period while you’re pregnant, and she knows people who’ve had several.

It’s usually due to birth control pills, but her mom had gone off the Pill and still had several periods before she knew she was five months pregnant with Becky.

Pregnant with the child of the husband who deserted me.  What am I supposed to do now, if I am?  I don’t want to miscarry–I hope I don’t.  Unwanted pregnancy or not, a miscarriage is so sad.  And I certainly wouldn’t abort it.

On the 25th, I wrote:

My period finally started about ten minutes ago.  I did a bunch of research into the subject this week [ online and on the computer ], trying to see if pregnancy was possible or not, and could only come to the conclusion that maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t.

If I was, it was a twin; if I wasn’t, psychological stress pushed off ovulation.  [ I didn’t yet know about the hormonal imbalance which actually has caused me many period problems over the years. ]

On Sunday, November 27, my parents and I returned to Roanoke.  On my way out the door, I stopped at the top of the basement stairs and looked down to my little kitty Hazel, who sat and stared at me from the foot of the stairs.

(We now used the door there as a main door instead of the back door, because my parents put a new carpet in the family room and didn’t want it to get dirty.)

I felt I’d never see her again.  Was I going to die from sadness or in a car crash that day?

Back at school, I mentioned the feeling to Sharon; she said maybe Hazel was going to die.  As it turned out, Hazel and I both lived to see each other on Christmas Break, but after that, I never saw her again.

She died of an undetermined illness which made her bald and skinny, possibly diabetes.  (She did love those Twinkies, after all.)

Who did my parents and I see at Marc’s Restaurant in S–?  Persephone and her parents!  (They also would have been returning from Indiana.)  The wait staff seated us just a table or two apart.  Persephone and I looked at each other and laughed.

So now my parents knew what she looked like.  At least she was just with her parents, and not with Phil.  However, the sight of her reminded me of the pain I was going back to.  By the way, this Marc’s soon became Annie’s Restaurant.  I don’t know what it is now.

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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