A Breakup with Probable NVLD–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–January 1992, Part 2

Part 1

On the night of the breakup, I put all reminders of Peter into a dresser drawer.  Once, I threw a stress ball across the room.  I cried to put everything away, but knew that I would be in even worse shape if they sat out on display, reminding me of good times every time I looked around.

The next several days are so depressing and personal that I’d rather keep most of the details in my journals.

Even when my biggest crushes turned into nothing, I hadn’t felt this way.  After realizing that C.B. just wasn’t going to go out with me, I allowed myself one cry into my pillow.  Then after that, I thought, “I had my cry.”

I can only remember crying over one other boy; after that, I drew myself up and acted like he was nothing to me.  I actually felt angry that he didn’t give me a chance.

When D.B. began dating another girl even though I thought I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he wanted me, it hurt, but I looked at it philosophically: High school romances (like theirs) don’t last long, and we were about to graduate anyway.

Now, my heart hurt so much physically and was so tight in my chest that it was a wonder it didn’t burst.

I discovered that Food Service wouldn’t serve meals over the break between Winterim and the spring semester, except to people who paid extra for sack meals.  I had expected to spend the few days of Winterim Break at Peter’s house, where I spent every break, and had no money to pay for sack meals, so this left me without food for four days!

I had a brief conversation with Peter, and mentioned that I had nowhere to go for Winterim Break, but he didn’t offer to let me stay over.  I don’t know if he realized I was without food.

My parents told me to go to the business office on Thursday and get a cash advance from my credit card of at least 50 or 60 dollars.  This way, I could pay for the meal tickets.  But, to my dismay, the woman working there said, “This is not a bank.”

So one more door was shut.  The next four days looked bleak.  Not only was I without the person I thought I loved most in the world, but I was going to starve.  I was probably furious with Peter for leaving me in this situation, though I’m not sure he should be held directly responsible.  Still, he did change plans at the last minute, leaving me in the lurch.

During this time, I began hanging around with friends I made the last semester.  They were Pearl, Cindy, Sharon, Catherine, Tara and Carol.  I needed friends, and not to be alone; I liked them best of everyone I knew there.

On Thursday, I told them my situation.  They were all going home for the break, but Sharon and the others had some spare food.  Sharon gave me Frosted Flakes and milk and maybe some soup or some other dry food.  I think Cindy gave me hot chocolate, unless I already had that.  I was so grateful to them that I became their lifelong friends.

A certain member of administration (I will call her Memadmin) somehow got wind of my situation–maybe I was supposed to ask her how to buy meal tickets–and had me go to her office on the 30th.

Since she also somehow heard of my breakup with Peter, maybe she knew why I hadn’t looked into the Winterim Break meal plans before this.  (I spent every school break except Christmas with his family, and this breakup was right before Winterim Break, so why would I expect to need a meal plan?)

She said to not tell anybody, but she would do me a favor: give me a few sack meal tickets, enough for one meal per day.  They weren’t many, but they were enough to keep me alive, especially with the food my friends had given me and the snack foods I had.

Then my parents decided to come up and take me to a hotel.

After freshman year, hot meals were served during breaks, not just sack meals.  Junior year, the college began serving meals during breaks as part of the meal plan.

Winterim Break left me on my own for a couple of days with no one to talk to, except long-distance.  I had little experience with dating, and didn’t know what to do.  My nonverbal learning disorder made things even more difficult to sort through.  I tried to get my mind off my problems, but nothing worked.  I couldn’t sleep or eat.

The ensuing hours and days are probably too personal to describe here.  It also isn’t something I really want to talk about now, because I want to leave it in the past.  When I wrote in my memoirs about it, that was my catharsis, and finally seemed to settle old resentments and hurts.

I will say that I didn’t yet see that he was totally the wrong person for me, that he would change from the person I knew into someone totally different.

(Having trouble reading the various nuances of body language has made me gullible where other people could see right through it; it’s possible that he never was the person I thought he was.  It’s possible he was trying to be what he thought I wanted.  Considering what others have told me, this is quite likely.  But by no means can I be sure.)

When you finally find someone after years of loneliness and wondering why nobody ever asks you out, losing him again makes you wonder if you’ll ever find someone else.  I went into a deep, dark depression that lasted for months.  I did foolish things, and things that maybe weren’t foolish but I didn’t know how to do them right.

My depression was so bad that I wouldn’t have made it out alive if not for God.  I did not yet know that life is a wheel, that I could ride out even the worst depression and come out on the other side, happy in new experiences.

I relied quite heavily on prayer and Bible-reading.  I got closer to some acquaintances and made them friends, which gave me a support network away from home.  I believe God provided them for me.

Peter–who always told me that drunkenness was stupid–was drinking underage and getting drunk.  He even began smoking pot!  He also went back to swearing like a sailor, even when I was nearby.

I thought he had changed considerably, and my heart burned; Shawn said that no one changes that much in such a short time.  He suspected that Peter had been lying to me.

Though I knew Peter lied to others, even his parents, I thought it impossible for him to have lied to me before the breakup.  But now, looking back, I think he must have told me a few lies here and there.

Nonverbal learning disorder would have made it easy for Peter to misrepresent himself to me:

The impairments of NLD also lead to a preponderance of very literal translations which, in turn, precede continuous misjudgments and misinterpretations.

The child with NLD is naively trusting of others (to a fault) and does not embrace the concept of dishonesty (even in terms of white lies) or withholding (even inflammatory) information. He also will not recognize when he is being lied to or deceived by others.

Deceit, cunning, and/or manipulation are beyond this child’s scope of assimilation. He assumes that everyone is friendly who displays that front verbally and that the intentions of others are only that which they expose verbally.

This inability to ‘read’ the intentions of others often results in a lot of unfortunate ‘scapegoating’ of this child. He needs to be taught to question the motives of others – he won’t learn from experience. –Sue Thompson, Nonverbal Learning Disorders

That explains why, during the breakup, when Peter told me we shouldn’t see each other “for a while,” I initially thought he meant we would start dating again later on.

During this time, I was led astray by a popular Charismatic teaching that each person can be a sort of “prophet.”  Many people seek to get revelations from God about whom they will marry.  These revelations tend to be totally wrong, lies either from Satan or from the self.

In fact, Anna was also led astray by this very thing.  We would encourage each other to keep faith in what God had told us.  Senior year, she discovered that her “future husband” was now engaged–to someone else.  She said her “revelation” came from Satan.

She got her revelation through such things as “words” from other people, and opening her Bible and finding something that seemed to be for her.  I got mine through a practice I heard about on The 700 Club.

I had watched The 700 Club for years, and actually started listening for “words” back in high school.  Twice I felt “Don’t worry” when I thought I had forgotten about a test or a homework assignment, only to discover that it wasn’t due for another day or two.

A major part of each episode of The 700 Club was the prayer, which included Pat Robertson and his co-hosts waiting for God to reveal to them who in their studio and viewing audience was being healed of various ailments, about to get money they desperately needed, etc.

Many of these people then called and said they were the ones these words were meant for.  Often their testimonies were dramatic, and turned into news stories for the show.

One co-host, Sheila Walsh, said that at first she wasn’t sure God was actually telling her these things, that she wasn’t the type of person He’d tell them to.  But He told her something, she said nothing, and then God told Pat instead and he said it (at least, that’s how she explained it).  That convinced her.

In the winter of 1992, a guest on The 700 Club gave more information on how to seek God’s direction, “words” impressed on your spirit about the future or the present.  You might fast for it; you might sit and meditate, trying to clear your mind and focus on one word.

I wrote down everything he said.  I now know this practice is deceptive, that we should let God speak to us as He wills, not try to force it.  I’m told that some people have even lost their faith over “words” that fail to come true.

This practice comes from the Charismatic branch of the church, which many other denominations (such as the Lutheran or Orthodox) consider to be full of errors.

I’m convinced that if I hadn’t had these deceptive “words,” I would’ve stopped waiting for Peter far sooner.  Instead of trying to build my faith in the words, I would have tried to move on.

I would’ve been much happier–especially nine months later, when I no longer wanted Peter back, but felt I would eventually have to go back with him because God said he was my future husband.

Yet I did as Pat said when I got the “words,” and even tested them!  Despite what some people might have thought, I was not going off the deep end; I was just misguided by a popular show and charismatic teachings.

By some accounts, The 700 Club is the “most respected” Christian TV show!  And, after feeling like it was just me, I have since discovered that all sorts of people have done the same things I have, getting words about whom they’ll marry (and getting it wrong), seeing demons and spiritual warfare in everything, etc.

I’m told that young people are especially susceptible to these things, wanting to be special, feeling passionate about God, wanting to know God’s will as they make big decisions about careers and spouses, and wanting to see the supernatural in their lives.

This is a real-life demonstration for you of the harm that such teachings can cause.  I shudder to think now of how this affected me in college and the actions I took because of it.  I would have let go of my ex much sooner if I could’ve simply listened to friends who said he has either changed a lot, or he only pretended to be what you wanted.

If not for the deception of the “words,” I could’ve seen he was not right for me, and God did not “choose” him for me.  Instead, I fought my “unbelief” and strove to “lean on the promise” even when I fell out of love and wanted to move on.

In 2001 I found a website which talked about these very things.  It even talked about “prophets” getting political “revelations,” such as Pat Robertson did, and said these prophets could be projecting their own wishes onto the “revelations,” or may have demonic spirits talking to them.

I’m so glad I stopped watching The 700 Club in 1994.  Nowadays, rather than seeing it as a positive influence on my teen years, I see it as actually detrimental.

I’ve also learned that in situations like this, it’s better to rely on the hope that God will see you through anything, rather than trying to figure out what will happen next.  When I look back, I see all the ways that He’s kept me out of trouble, and made sure that I would follow the path He wanted me to go in.

You can find that website here.  Go to the heading “How does one get possessed?”  It may not sound like the right place, but it is.  You have to scroll down a bit.  A quote from this article:

Some of you reading this, who in the past got burned by some false prophecy, can now understand what happened.

You may have thought that ‘word’ that said you would be healed, see a loved one get saved, marry someone you had a crush on, or reap a 100-fold return on the money you sent to a minister had to have been from God.

When it didn’t come true you either got mad at God or got discouraged and blamed yourself for not having enough faith. Well, the truth is, the Charismatic movement is rife with false prophets who give the real ones a bad name.

The “Predict the Future” sub-heading above the “possessed” heading is also relevant.  I don’t agree with everything the writer says on his website, but I believe he is right about this.

I also go into this here.

Another thing I’ve grown to understand, from a combination of experiences and reading that popular book Men Are From Mars/Women Are From Venus, is that I was probably right when I felt like Peter and I were closer than ever before after the talks we had over Christmas Break.

(I know this book gets criticized a lot.  I also know that gender differences are often more due to culture or personality than gender.  Many times, I found the roles in Mars/Venus to be reversed in my case.  But many times, I found it to be right on target, describing not just me but the guys I had dealt with.  This book may not apply well to everybody, but it applies well to me, probably because I’m often feminine and conservative, and has given me insight into why my exes behaved the way they did.)

According to Mars, such increased intimacy may scare a man into thinking that he must pull away and re-establish his identity.  It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love his woman.  If given the space he needs, he will eventually snap back, and things will be fine again.

Women, however, usually think fundamentally differently than a man does.  When he pulls away, she thinks something’s wrong (pages 92-98).  If she says something about it, he may think she’s blaming him, even when she’s not (page 89).  If he doesn’t pull away, he may get moodier, more irritable, or more defensive (page 105).

In either case, the woman’s instinct is to try to get closer, to fix things.  This is what works with women.  With men, however, it pushes them even farther away.  But because of the differences in the way men and women deal with things and respond to things, they often have no idea how their responses are affecting the other person.

The man doesn’t realize that the woman is hurt and that, according to her way of thinking, she has every right to feel hurt; the woman doesn’t realize that her attempts to fix things actually push the man farther away (pages 93-98).

This doesn’t mean she should submit to being treated like a doormat.  But communication and discussion before actually breaking up could make a huge difference.  Chapter six talks about many feminine behaviors which I did, including trying to fix the problem.

Too bad I didn’t have this book back then.  But it wasn’t even written until 1992, I didn’t hear about it until 1994, and I didn’t get ahold of it until 1995.

But then again, considering the ways Peter changed as the year went on, maybe nothing would have worked.  He wanted to go one way; I wanted to go another.  And he may have been lying to me about who he really was.  A breakup was inevitable eventually.

The difference between men and women does not excuse other things.  For example, Peter should never have told people I was obsessed with marriage while he wasn’t thinking that far ahead, or that I made up the Link.

Sadly, I was hardly new to being the object of vicious rumors spread by guys who used to like me.  And it would happen again senior year, by Phil, an abusive ex-fiancé.

In elementary school, a certain boy always used to make fun of me.  Then I heard he liked me, and didn’t believe it.  The following year, he kept making public comments to me such as, “Hey, gorgeous.”

I have a soft heart, so he wore me down until I liked him back.  But he never actually asked me to “go with him.”  Then, near the end of the year, somebody in gym class found out how I felt about him.

Next thing I know, this boy, who’d chased me all year, starts yelling to me on the bus, “I’m not your type.”

In junior high, a certain guy spent all year flirting with me in front of everyone, though he never asked me to “go with him.”  Near the end of the year, he told another kid about me, “Don’t you know we’re going together?”  I spent the rest of the day happy because he was finally my boyfriend.

Then, the very next day, he said to me, “I like this other girl now.”  A girl who also happened to be a mean girl who made fun of me on the bus in elementary school.  For the rest of the year and on into high school, he told everyone I was a Satan worshipper, and ripped on me and called me names every chance he got.

Now, here in a college full of what were supposedly adults, another guy was spreading rumors and ripping on me every chance he got.  And in another two years, it would happen again with another ex.

Not only did such treatment wound my spirit, it made me wonder why this kept happening to me.  Why couldn’t I find a decent man?  I wanted a nice guy, but the nice guys never seemed to want me.  When they did, they ended up treating me badly.

It would be many years before I discovered that my issues with guys could easily be traced back to family issues.

Once, Julie told me about her own experiences with an ex, and even let me read a class essay she’d written on the subject.  This happened the previous year (she was now a sophomore); they were engaged; it took her some time to get over him.  It was a while before she stopped calling him to ask if he was sure.  A friend or family member offered to vandalize his car, but she said no.

All her poems in Poetry class were about him and the breakup–just as most of mine would be about Peter.  She and Darryl started seeing each other soon after the breakup, but stopped because they didn’t want it to be a rebound relationship.

Julie eventually got over her ex; she and Darryl became a couple.  Though they had the occasional breakup, they got married (though that eventually ended).

No one knew that I probably had a learning disorder which caused me to take everything literally.  When Peter said he would do something with me–marry me in three and a half years, or take me out on his motorcycle, or teach me stick shift, or have me teach him German, for examples–I expected him to do it.  I thought everyone did this.

I could not understand why Peter came up with conclusions different from mine.  I did not understand how negotiating everything could push him farther away, instead of pulling him back.

I did not understand how he could say he would marry me, but then not do it.  I fully expected him to still take me on that motorcycle ride, still teach me stick shift, still have me teach him German, even after the breakup.

These traits along with many others, by the way, are shared by Nonverbal Learning Disorder and by Asperger’s Syndrome.

By the way, if you read this and my fiction, you may be tempted to think that my fiction is autobiographical.  It is not.  Events and emotions are often inspired by my real life, but the characters, details, dialogues, even things that happen, are distinctly different.

I draw from various sources: my life, other people’s lives, dreams, imagination.  I’ll take events that have nothing in common with each other, and thread them together into one plotline.

I’ll make up motivations to suit the story.  I’ll change all sorts of things.  The truth is here in my memoirs and in my journals; it is not in my fiction.

This time period wasn’t all bad, despite my deep depression.  I flipped to the Comedy Channel one day, and found some strange show which had a movie, shadows of a row of movie theater seats down along the bottom, and black figures of a man and two robots sitting in the seats.  As the movie played, those figures made comments.

I didn’t understand what was going on, so I soon turned to something else.  Soon after, I overheard a friend of Stefan’s as she talked about how funny this show was.  So I tried watching it again, and loved it.  It was Mystery Science Theater: 3000.

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: