Sometime during the next few weeks, I went to Laura’s house with Cugan, and sat down next to a black cat with white patches on her chest and paws. This cat looked up from her nap and let me pet her while she purred.
Laura saw this cat, Gizu (GEET-soo), took a liking to me, and said, “Want a cat?”
This poor thing was the low cat on the totem pole in this house, and all the other cats beat up on her. (When I took her away, a different cat took this position.)
She came away from Laura’s with a liking for “beatings” (all the Laura cats had a strange, masochistic streak), but with hatred for other cats and distrust of small children.
When I brought her to Indiana, she was quiet in the car, and took to her new home immediately. She seemed blissfully happy, with no cats or small children to contend with.
By the beginning of July, I got my insurance clerk job in S–, and new adventures began. For examples:
Cindy and other Roanoke students worked there with me. Catherine used to work there, before I did.
I married Cugan (no secret weddings this time).
As I mentioned previously, Phil showed up on my doorstep right before Christmas as Cugan and I packed the car for a visit to Cugan’s family. My mom and others wondered what he would have done if Cugan weren’t there. They thought he’d hurt me somehow. But with Cugan there, he just greeted me and gave me my old D&D character sheets.
Oh, and don’t forget my thoughts as Cugan and I first drove into our new city: Here was a new place with no Peter, Phil, Persephone or Avenger (though I found her again when going on TCB long-distance).
I moved in with Cugan in July 1995, and never moved out again. So even though we didn’t get married until April 19, 1997, more than two years after we started dating, it feels like we married on July 4, 1995, just four months after we started dating.
On December 9, 1995, I went to a party in my old apartment with my old roommies and other Roanoke friends:
Persephone told me she didn’t realize just how dysfunctional their on-again, off-again relationship was, until her friends started “throwing” new guys at her to get her away from Phil. They saw how dysfunctional it was before she did, while she was still with him.
She also said that now the girls were staying away from him.
She was surprised I didn’t know that Phil’s brother Dave and his Pearl broke up a long time before. I recalled Phil saying they’d been fighting just like his parents.
One of the girls at the party, who knew his Pearl, said her friends wondered what Pearl saw in Dave, anyway. His Pearl wanted nothing to do with Phil, who kept chasing her now that she was free.
There was also another girl at the party, a transfer student, who Pearl declared to be my “replacement” in the group, since I graduated and several of my friends–even in my own class–stayed another year or so.
Ironically, she ended up being my “replacement” for Phil as well, who later dated her, got her pregnant, and married her–but divorced her about 10 or 11 years later, after two kids.
I don’t know the circumstances, just that he claimed on his Classmates.com account that she wasn’t “supportive” of his job in a new city.
In any case, my friends told me various things about Phil and this new girl:
In 1996, they all went to a restaurant one day, she asked to bring a friend, and to their shock, she brought Phil. She and Phil ended up all alone at their table because nobody else wanted to sit with Phil.
Watching them together was like him and me all over again, but worse, because she’d skip out on sorority meetings and not admit it was for Phil.
It scared them all when I was engaged to him. Phil had not changed: He yelled at her like they heard him yelling at me. He wanted his way, only, and that’s it. He was mean to her.
Cindy considered him a jerk for getting her pregnant, because, since he didn’t believe in birth control, he shouldn’t have been having sex.
Pearl and others tried to talk her out of marriage. Pearl even sent her a letter about it.
Since this girl was in an abusive relationship before, apparently she thought this one was nice as long as Phil wasn’t hitting her.
I also see through the state’s public access court website that Phil did have some sort of disorderly conduct conviction in the early 2000’s. There are no details, but there was a victim, and it shows that he was capable of violence.
I met this girl again at another party, given at Mike’s house in February 1996. She sat beside me on a couch, and talked to me and nearby people about her life story and the places she’d been.
She even said she went to a store with her “friend. I saw a stuffed rabbit I liked, and he got it for me.” She thought he was so sweet.
I feared she meant Phil, and really hoped she didn’t. I felt weird around her, thinking that she had actually gone out with Phil. Ugh!
I showed off my engagement ring. Sharon said, “He didn’t give you a bird, did he?” and laughed.
Cindy later told me this girl was so excited to have talked to me, that Phil told her all about me, and talked me up as this wonderful person.
Cindy felt he did this to control her, by presenting me as so perfect that she felt she had to live up to it. Cindy said she was also very submissive to him.
I got in touch with Peter and Shawn again.
Shawn used to call on occasion when I first moved in with Cugan; I even invited him to my wedding, though he wasn’t able to come.
He lives just a couple of hours away, but we haven’t seen each other in nearly 20 years. Once in a great while, we exchange a few e-mails to catch up, though I haven’t heard from him since 2005.
As for Peter, we had both arguments and apologies about new things (religion, mostly). Peter and I both discovered Goth around the same time. Now we’re on each other’s Facebook, and once in a while exchange a comment or have a little chat.
As for Phil, on Eastern Orthodoxy’s Forgiveness Sunday in 2007 (February 18), I sent him a message through Classmates.com. I apologized for giving him a hard time about Catholicism, and also for some things I said in the past which were too harsh.
At the beginning of Lent the next day, he messaged back that he should be the one to apologize: Religion was not really a problem for him, and he said harsher things to me than I said to him. He said that I and my family were very good to him, but we moved too fast.
He even expressed regret at how things turned out between us, especially now that he was getting divorced. He said he still wished things went differently and worked out between us. His mother still told him I was the only girl he should’ve stayed with.
So never give up hoping for an end to bad feelings between people.
How do I think of these things now? When I’m revising some little bit of my memoirs, I obviously have to channel the old hurt, frustration, etc. If I don’t, the writing will not resonate as “real.”
But once that’s done–all this again becomes a part of the past. The hurt, the pain, the embarrassing moments, the desire for revenge–it all belongs in the long-past.
I did not marry Peter, Phil or Shawn; I have had no contact with their families or friends for years; what they did to me once, has nothing to do with my life now.
I might e-mail Peter, Phil or Shawn occasionally, but they’re not a part of my present.
The old angst makes for good stories, and occasionally I can use it when advising somebody who’s going through similar issues.
It’s taken a long time, but I think I may have finally forgiven Peter, Phil and Shawn.
Update 3/29/19: In 2018 and 2019, more information came to light thanks to social media:
I blogged about this here, here, here and here.
Phil’s next, legal marriage, only lasted for about ten years, ending 12 years ago. In all those years since, he has not remarried–but was about to in July of 2018. I learned about his new fiancée through Facebook.
But the following August, she revealed that Phil is severely mentally ill. She said he has Bipolar II, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and other disorders which she did not name.
Her description of him as “wouldn’t hurt a fly,” and her friends’ descriptions of him as this wonderful human being, threw me for a loop because of how he treated me. But she was beginning to see that “other Phil” that I had known–and said the illnesses were to blame.
They broke up; she said it was a combination of her not wanting to be treated the way the “other Phil” treated her, and him wanting to deal with his mental illnesses on his own. She said he was on suicide watch. She was supposed to be there as his friend, but then he “ghosted” her and she felt hurt.
Well, now she has revealed something else. I’m not sure when she found out about it (November?), but recently she began posting memes about narcissism, liars, and the kind of man who has a string of “soulmates” who they wooed in the same ways with the same words–then tossed aside when they got bored.
(Some time ago, she re-posted a Facebook post he made about her: He listed all the things he loved about her. The wording was the same as a list he made of all the things he loved about me.)
As she put it, he “checked out” months before August 2018, with “promiscuity” that put her “health at risk.”
So he cheated on her. (I wonder if he still believes birth control is evil?) Even this one, could not tame his inner beast. Even this one, he tired of and threw away. If she could not, then no one could. She no longer speaks of his mental illnesses being to blame for his bad behavior.
And I can’t say I’m overly surprised: Remember, this same guy told me he wouldn’t be able to control himself over the summer if I went back home without him, which is one reason why I wanted him to stay with me at my parents’ house. This guy would praise the physical attributes of every girl he saw out of the house, and every woman he saw on TV inside the house, and say he wanted to take them into the back of his van–then call me possessive or jealous for being upset. This guy would tell me he wanted a harem, and which girls he wanted in it (including his brother’s fiancée), and then call me jealous. But when I found myself falling for Mike, Phil became enraged with jealousy and then tried to force me into confessing my little crush to the guy.
If even Doris was not enough for him, then nobody can be. If even she no longer excuses his behavior because of mental illness, then I have no reason to. Earlier I wondered if a person with Bipolar and FAS can be excused for abusing and otherwise mistreating another, because that “isn’t really him.” But it was really him. It’s not just an illness, but Phil’s character. Phil is a narcissist and to blame for what he did to me.
It also says that I am not to blame. I still get little “time bombs” going off in my head when I hear or read something that reminds me of Phil saying I did something bad. I start thinking, Was I really the one in the wrong? But this tells me there’s no way I could have brought better treatment on myself from him. Now there is somebody else, without my input, coming to the conclusion that he is a narcissist. He hurt somebody else even while she still thought he was wonderful.
Meanwhile, he and his immediate family are estranged. There have been lawsuits and restraining orders, and a mother who (according to Doris) wanted to keep her son under her thumb, even in middle-age. I don’t know who’s wrong or right, or even most of the details. But I see very well what my life would’ve been like if Phil had gone ahead with our planned legal marriage:
Dysfunctional in-laws. Mother-in-law who Persephone called “Dragon Lady.” Husband with severe mental illness and narcissism who sleeps around and is abusive. Best friend of husband who is obnoxious and also husband’s tool. Husband who can’t hold down a job. And all this is assuming that we could stay married for long, since he has eventually grown dissatisfied with every woman he’s ever had, even the one he married legally.
So remember: Sometimes that breakup really is for the best, no matter how much you thought you were “soulmates.”
And that’s it for my college memoirs.
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)
Table of Contents
December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?
April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign
October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:
Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams
June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:
July & August 1994: