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Phil refuses to accept responsibility for the divorce–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 7

All weekend, though a commuter, Phil hung around campus and had long talks with me.  They seemed productive.  Once, Phil agreed to talk to my parents on the phone; they talked him into going with me to a counselor.

Dad told us to make out lists of each other’s faults, rather than letting it be one-sided, with only Phil telling me my faults.  I started work on mine, and asked Phil to work on his–though, truly, he already gave me a verbal one.

Mom told me what he said to her on the phone.  He told her I was so upset because relationships and break-ups were new to me.  She didn’t like this.  (It also wasn’t true: I was upset over the way he treated me, and it’s only natural to be very upset over a divorce.)

Shortly before we left for school, he seemed to brag to her that he’d had seven girlfriends before, and broke up with all of them himself.  (Of course, one or two of them broke up with him.)  She got a weird feeling from this, that he had something in mind.

She also felt he would throw a girl away when he tired of her–confirmation that he had the abuser trait, “unceremoniously discarding.”  She said, “Oh, so he was going to spend the summer here, eat our food, take our money, then take you back to school and break up with you?”

I don’t want to tell everything Phil and I talked about, just summarize a few important things.  Things he said made no sense, and I didn’t deserve the treatment I got that summer.

I didn’t intend to do the same things again that I had done wrong, but he had to change, too.  He had to recognize his own faults, just as I’d recognized mine.

He even blamed me for him getting a cold, though I didn’t give it to him!

He even said, “I think I’m still in love with Tracy,” even though he never loved Tracy and never even kissed her.  Back in January, if he’d loved Tracy, I would have backed off.  But he made it very clear that he felt no passion for her, was not attracted to her, just thought of her as a friend!

Now he was changing history and telling me he’d been in love with her?  What the HECK?  (See here for what really happened.)

By the way, that school year I heard Tracy got a boyfriend who did want to be with her.  She would have missed out on that if she’d been with Phil.

Phil said his brother Dave and his fiancée Pearl were acting like his parents, and probably headed for a breakup.  (That, though he may not have realized it, sounded like our own marriage prior to the divorce.)

To my shock, Phil had asked this same Pearl to go to dinner with him.  She “got very quiet.”

So a day after our separation, my husband asked out some new girl–who, by the way, was his own brother’s fiancée?

He said, “She’s giving, like me.”

Like him?  Like him, who wouldn’t do anything nice for me when I asked?  Who wouldn’t give me what I wanted or needed, no matter what?  Who’d give anyone a ride but me?

(I later learned that he’d been offering to drive groups to Fond du Lac to dance on the weekends.)

Who wouldn’t do foreplay when I asked, go to Sunday School with me even once, or go to the classes in that one evening service?  Who wouldn’t give me the right to have valid points, valid complaints about him?

And she’s giving, the one who accused me falsely, terrorized me for having no clue anybody still needed the shower, and called me a party pooper for not wanting to dance with a concussion?

In 1995, Sharon, Pearl, Chloe and Astrid held a Christmas party in the apartment, where they all lived at the time, since they hadn’t graduated yet.  I was with Cugan now.

Persephone (Phil’s girlfriend after me) came to the party.  She had broken up with Phil again.  I must have asked if Dave and his Pearl had gotten married yet.

“They broke up a long time ago,” she said.  “You didn’t know that?”

Nope, I was totally out of the loop of the O’Hara life by then.

“Phil tried chasing after [Dave’s] Pearl for a while, but she wanted nothing to do with him.  In fact, all the women have been staying away from him!

Just goes to show you that my complaints of Phil were real, not just me trying to make myself feel better with false memories.  If I were the problem and not him (as he tried so hard for so long to make me believe), then he wouldn’t have such a terrible reputation at Roanoke that nobody wanted to date him, even long after I left.

****

Back to September 1994.  I’ve heard that women who go through a break-up usually cut their hair, but I didn’t–especially after Phil kept badgering me to cut it.

I tried to talk to Phil over the next few days about setting up a counseling appointment, and gave him my list.  Sometimes he was mean, and sometimes not.  He also complained about my friends giving him nasty looks.

One day, we sat by the lagoon and discussed what would happen if we did get back together: I would have to give up my own ideas of what was right or what was moral, of how a proper wife should act, and take on his ideas, which were now far more morally questionable than before. 

He had no backbone for refusing harmful peer pressure, and wanted me to be fine with that, forcing me to compromise everything I believed in.

But I was desperately stupid enough now to give in.  The things he wanted made me lose even more respect for him.  From the outcome of this interview, it almost seemed he would consider getting back together with me sooner than the month he had mentioned before.

He also wanted me to consider sex with him without commitment.

Clarissa came over to visit.  We went to my tree to tell her about Phil breaking off the “engagement.”  With the new apartments over there and the trimming the builders had done, the tree was now out in the open and stripped of shoots and such.  I tried to sit in the tree, but it just didn’t work.

My tree!  My tree!  I used to wander out there, past the lagoon and the geese, sophomore and junior years, to sit in the tree and read and get away from the difficulties and pains of life.  During sophomore year, it was a release from the situations with Peter and Shawn.  I really needed it then.  But now, there was no tree!

Since I couldn’t sit in my tree anymore, I started wandering in the woods instead, and doing this more times in one year than I had done in the last three years put together.

Sharon pointed to her ring finger once and said, “Next time, get a ring.”

Sometime soon after the divorce, Phil told me he’d been bathing now–soap and everything–and brushing his teeth, so he could attract women.  Sometimes he even shaved.

He must have wanted to insult me, because he refused to do this during our marriage.  (I think my nose got immune.)  He also started watching a network for televised personal ads on S–‘s Marcus Cable.

Please bear with me: We’re now entering the longest, darkest, most painful part of this tunnel.  But at the end we’ll find sunshine.  And hopefully, the darkness will finally be purged from my soul so I can forgive.  [I wrote this paragraph in 2006.]

Tuesday, September 13.  I sat with Phil, Dirk and some other people at lunch, probably so I could tell Phil the time of our counseling appointment.  Dirk said with a sneer, “Here’s your list, Phil,” and handed him a small piece of yellow, lined paper.

I blanched: It was the list I gave Phil of his faults!  What a betrayal!  Not only that, but Phil now refused to see the counselor with me, despite agreeing to it before.

I soon learned that Dirk had been feeding him the line, “You should be able to work things out without a counselor.”  This is not true, and I did not appreciate this interference and sabotage of my attempts to work things out with my own husband.  And this is the guy who later said he rooted for me to get back together with Phil!  Sometimes counseling is the only thing to save a relationship, and it is certainly worth a try.

So Phil now had a minion who not only believed every bit of BS Phil told him about me, but poisoned Phil’s mind against every attempt I made to save our marriage!

Note this from Myndtalk’s “Emotional Abuse”:

However, if the abused person demands that the abuser participate in counseling or else–even if the abuser agrees to the counseling, it is likely to be short lived.

The abuser will be able to benefit from counseling when the abuser believes and acknowledges that counseling is critical to recovery.  Why?  Until the abuser owns the behavior and his/her obligation to end the abuse, the behavior continues.

Sometimes the courts demand counseling. Sometimes the legal weight of mandated counseling does have an effect.  Sometimes the awareness that a loved one will leave the relationship in one way or another will jolt the abuser into an acceptance that the behavior must stop.  And sometimes not.

Over the years, I hoped that Phil’s second wife, “K,” dragged him into counseling and changed him.  She seemed like a nice person; I always felt sorry for her, being trapped into a marriage with him by pregnancy.  (That could’ve been me!)

Cindy heard Phil yell at K the same way he used to yell at me.  From what K said to Cindy, Phil told K I was this wonderful wife who did everything he wanted (the exact opposite of what he told me about myself).  (So why did he divorce me, then?)

She tried to be like this vision of me, and admired me.  Cindy considered this Phil manipulating K.

I kept wondering when I’d hear of their divorce.  I kept wondering when I’d hear that he hit her or the baby, or both.  I kept hoping she’d recognize abuse if he continued to abuse in any way.

I kept hoping his kid wouldn’t grow up just like him and carry on the chain, which I’d always hoped would be stopped by him not having children at all.  (I told Peter I hoped that Phil would become a monk so he wouldn’t have kids or advise married couples.)

In 2007, Phil and K did divorce.  Phil got a disorderly conduct charge in the early 2000’s which involved a “victim impact statement” (I have no details of who or what.)

And of course, on his classmates.com profile, he posted a whole description of the divorce, where he blames her for it, saying she was “not supportive.”  The same complaint he made of me later in September, as you will see.

Sharon said in 1996 or 1997 that watching him and his new fiancée K, was like watching him and me all over again, only worse because K lied about where she was when she missed Phi-Delt meetings for him.

K, who transferred to Roanoke after I graduated, became my “replacement” in my group of friends.  But when my friends called her this, they had no idea she would be my “replacement” in every way.

I bet Phil hated that each of his Roanoke girlfriends was in this group, with people he hated because they saw right through him.

Pearl wrote a long letter warning K not to marry Phil, but she didn’t listen.  In 1996, Persephone had finally broken up with him for the last time and told me,

“I didn’t realize how dysfunctional we were until all my friends starting throwing guys at me to date.”

But K did not have Persephone’s spunk, so she probably would not slap Phil back if he slapped her.  I always hoped that she got him into counseling.  After reading the above linked article, however, I began to fear for her emotional and physical safety, and for what was being taught to their children.

They had passed out of the lives of my friends and their alumni records were outdated, so I had no idea if she finally tossed him out on his abusive butt–until now.  Well, I don’t know if she tossed him out, but I do know they’ve been divorced since 2007.

But back to September 1994.  Phil rejected everything on my list.  I was expected to take everything he said were my faults, as gospel truth, and change; yet whatever I said, was untrue and he didn’t need to change at all.  

How dare I suggest that he was not perfect, that maybe he contributed quite a bit to our problems.

I heard nothing from him but defenses of even the most blatantly disrespectful things he’d done, such as passively-aggressively staying away from me after I said I needed milk and orange juice.

Instead of telling me outright that he couldn’t (or just plain refused to) make it that day, he left me waiting all day and night, wondering when he’d show up.  Yet even here, it was somehow “wrong” for me to complain about his behavior.

And his offenses, enumerated for you in the past several months of this memoir, were at least as bad as, if not worse than, anything I had ever done to him: He emotionally, verbally, psychologically and sexually abused me constantly, with the threat of future physical abuse and anal rape.

He also said Dirk called the list a stupid idea.

Which it was not!  My dad, my intelligent, my wise dad, suggested it.  He’d been married for over 30 years and had come through the inevitable rough patches with a stronger marriage; Dirk was a kid and had never been married.

I should think Dad would know what he was talking about.  This was an insult not only to me, but also to my dad.  (By the way, a marriage counselor also suggested it to Joe and Rhoda on Rhoda.)

Besides that, what gave Phil the right to call the list a stupid idea?  He gave me a verbal list of my faults, so I had just as much right to give him a list as well.

And I have since read advice similar to Dad’s in advice books and columns.  Phil listened to Dirk way too much, and Dirk was wrong about many things.  He was the classic case of a know-it-all who knows nothing.

I learned in 1998 that it’s common for abusive men to blame everything on the woman and take no blame for themselves.

If I had known this in 1994, perhaps I would have seen Phil for what he truly was, and decided to have nothing more to do with him.

As it was, in Spring Semester I termed him only “borderline abusive.”  I was thinking of physical abuse, and didn’t realize a man can be abusive in other ways as well.

This is a common reason why people don’t recognize non-physical abuse.  I also didn’t know that verbal and emotional abuse often lead into physical abuse.

Anyway, I went alone to what was supposed to be our first joint meeting with the counselor.  She was the same counselor I saw sophomore year.  I told her everything that happened.  When I told her the things Dad said, she said, “He sounds very perceptive.”

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:

 

 

“The Rapture”: Left Behind Review, Part 1 (also goes into smacking kids upside the head)

by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 1414305818, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

FINALLY, the last prequel.  So only one more book is left!  (I’ve been reading these books for more than five years now.  😛  Though that’s nothing compared to how long the Slacktivist has been doing this.  😛  )

It’s comforting, on pages 13 to 14, to see Irene’s new Christian friends and pastor counsel her to stop nagging Rayford into getting “saved.”

Another pleasant surprise comes on page 16, when their son Raymie asks, “Mom, is Dad going to hell?” and Irene answers, “Frankly, I can’t tell where your dad is on all this.  He claims to believe in God, and it’s not for us to say.”

Pages 17 and 18 inspired me to write this post on my blog, which I will copy for you here:

I’m currently reading the Left Behind book “The Rapture” for my series of Left Behind reviews.  My reviews and the Slacktivist describe the bad, ungodly behavior of the Christians in the books.  But what I read last night, really burns me up:

A good Christian woman, Lucinda Washington, middle-aged, who is not afraid to show her faith and is respected by all, is also Buck’s favorite colleague, a mentor of sorts.

After witnessing the dramatic, supernatural defeat of the air forces sent to decimate Israel, he comes to her office looking for answers.  He plops down in a chair with his feet on the desk and she says,

“If you were my son I’d whup you upside the head, sitting like that, tearing up your spine.”

“You don’t still smack Lionel, do you?” Buck said, peeking at the photo of the smooth-faced youngster [he’s 12].

“Can’t catch him anymore, but he knows I can still take him.”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Excuse me, this isn’t set in 1950, but in 21st-century America, some indeterminate time after the present, right before the Rapture–and the book was written in 2006.

This barbaric practice should be universally condemned as child abuse by the time this book takes place.  It’s already illegal in some places.  And even 100 years ago, people knew that smacking kids anywhere on the head is dangerous.  I go into this in great detail in these posts:

Child Abuse, Examples of Child Abuse, Hitting Kids Upside the Head is ABUSE, Slapping Kids Upside the Head Causes Traumatic Brain Injury, and  …Because slapping kids on the head is ABUSE!  STOP THE VIOLENCE!

And this is the woman we are supposed to admire as a great woman of God?  A FRICKIN’ CHILD ABUSER????!!!!!

Here, I describe how two narcissistic “friends” turned out to be child abusers, whom I eventually reported to CPS because I could not get through to them, and who then threatened and began stalking me for calling them child abusers.  One of the things they did which most enraged me, was smacking their little kids in the head.

I also unfriended some old high school classmate a while back for advocating beating children on her Facebook status.  Then, a few months ago, unfriended (and eventually blocked) a girl in my social circles who said parents should beat their children.

Now, after all that, and enduring the stress and emotional anguish of being threatened and stalked for calling this child abuse, I’m supposed to read this “Christian” book and accept that a godly woman would abuse her child by smacking him upside the head?  I’m supposed to like this character after knowing this?  She’s just another hypocrite like the rest of the series’ Christians!

On page 26, Irene has turned into a Stepford Wife, even setting out Rayford’s clothes as if he were a child.  Since badgering him into converting doesn’t work, she’s taking the opposite tactic–still manipulative, but I guess she doesn’t see that.

But it drives him crazy, because he knows her various problems with him (church, his use of time, not spending enough time with their son) are still on her mind.  He’d rather argue than pretend they don’t exist.

On pages 63 to 66, Rayford explains to Raymie what many of us have realized over the years: that just because you don’t belong to a particular religion or sect, does not necessarily mean you’re going to Hell.  Raymie replies,

Wow.  You sound just like the people Pastor Billings talks about.  People who think they have it all figured out, but they don’t really believe in Jesus.

Say what?  Just because you have a different idea of who goes to Hell, you don’t really believe in Jesus?  Also, Raymie’s words have a distinct vibe of “Oh, you’re one of those people,” said with a curling lip.  ARGH!

And double-ARGH to the last few paragraphs on page 66:

Rayford…overheard the boy talking with Irene, who had asked how things went.

“Dad’s going to hell,” Raymie said.  “He doesn’t think he is.  He thinks he isn’t.  But he doesn’t believe in Jesus.  Not really.”

Meanwhile, back in Antichrist land, pages 71 to 74 depict a Mafia-style punishment of the family of a guy marked by Fortunato, Nicolae Carpathia’s right-hand man.  It’s full of evil and angst.

Where the heck was this kind of writing in the rest of the series?  If we see this along with Carpathia’s public image as a nice guy, we’ll know he’s evil.  No, all we get in the first books is that Carpathia wants world peace, which doesn’t sound so bad.

But if we got more of this behind-the-scenes evil instead of endless pages of traveling itineraries and phone conversations, the first books could have been awesome, instead of dull trudging wondering when this book will end.

To be continued.

Find all my Left Behind book reviews here.

 

 

Hints that Phil is checking out of the marriage–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–August 1994, Part 6

In Phil’s church, no one ever went up to the front to sing a song.  In my church, it was commonplace.  His way was strange to me, and mine was strange to him.

At the end of the summer, Phil wanted to sing a song in front of the church before we went back to school, so we went to the Family Bookstore for a background tape.  He picked out Amy Grant’s El Shaddai because he already knew it.

He practiced it nonstop.  Though I knew he needed to practice, it got on my nerves.

It reminded me of the summer of 1993, when the neighbor girl got a tape single of a popular rap song, Ditty by Paperboy.  She sat outside with her jam box one day and played the single over and over again.  It was all the same song, no B-sides.

Finally her mother yelled, “If you don’t stop playing that, I’ll take it away from you!”–to the possible applause of half the neighborhood.  I didn’t like the song much in the first place, and after that I could not listen to it anymore without gagging.

On the last Sunday morning we were in South Bend, August 28, Phil was to sing.  We had had a couple of good weeks.  As we got ready for church in my room, we talked about our last two weeks, how good they’d been and how we were improving.

I said we had all this time before our legal wedding to learn how to deal with married life.  Phil said that when the time came, we could know for sure if we wanted to legalize it or not.  I said that everyone else, not knowing of the common-law marriage, “will wonder how we do it.”  Phil smiled.

Though if we didn’t legalize it, I didn’t know how to reconcile that to the fact that we already were married in God’s eyes.  Wouldn’t it be adultery to split up?

One thing, though: I asked him to shave for the service, at least.  I said that even though I liked his beard, I wanted to see him clean-shaven again for at least a little while, and didn’t want him to look scruffy in front of the congregation.  (His beard always looked scruffy even when fully grown in, because it grew in patches.)  He just smiled at me, and didn’t shave it.

My pastor introduced Phil as “Nyssa’s friend.”  My mom said in a low voice, “Fiancé!”  I believe the same thing happened at the beginning of the summer, that the pastor announced I was back from college and had brought a “friend.”

The people loved Phil’s bass voice.  They also told my parents how well he sang hymns.  It made me proud.  Not only could he sing, but he could also serenade me, and he had done so at least twice.

Now, I look at this and what happened only a little more than a week later, and think, he went so far as to sing in front of the church as my fiancé–but then, a little more than a week later, broke up with me?

He sang a song about the glory of God’s many names, yet only a few weeks later, he got back with me only so he could satisfy his lusts, and left me again?

It’s people like him who give us Christians the name of “hypocrites”!

****

Phil and I finally went down to the South Bend Tribune building in August to pick up engagement announcement forms.  I kept asking him to take me, but he kept procrastinating.  We went in and picked up an engagement form–and he, with a smile, also picked up a wedding form and an anniversary form.  “We’ll be needing these,” he said.

I filled out my part, he filled out his, Mom answered a question or two–and it appeared in the paper on Sunday, August 28.  In the next few days, Mom’s coworkers brought their own copies of the engagement section to work and gave them to her.  She took them all home and folded them together.  It made her happy.  It did me, as well.

Later on, she wondered if the engagement announcement scared Phil instead of making him happy like it was supposed to.  She said that maybe he was scared to see in print just what was going to happen–maybe it didn’t hit him until then just what he was doing.

I believe it was that week I called my South Bend best friend, and got ahold of her for the first time all summer.  (She was always busy and hard to get ahold of.)  I asked if she saw our engagement announcement, but she said no.

I told her I was engaged, and asked if she’d be maid of honor.  She happily agreed.  She said South Bend guys were dogs, and asked if S– guys were.  I said mine wasn’t, so she said I was lucky.  You see how Stockholm Syndrome can do a number on your brain.

****

For once, I could take everything to school with me in the fall, instead of taking a little bit more every break, and going without stuffed animals or favorite books or winter clothes or a clothes basket for the first few months because they couldn’t fit into the Grand Am (or, freshman year, the Sunbird).  This excited me, and I made my packing plans accordingly.

Then Phil started acting strange.  In a petulant tone, he said my parents should take me back instead, while he spent extra weeks at his factory job before going back to S–!

But my parents were looking forward to not having to drive me all the way up there once again and pay tolls.  It had already been agreed and understood that he would take me with him when he went back to Wisconsin.

Since we came to Indiana together and had school at the same time, there was no sense in doing it any other way.  My parents hated the drive, which, to them, was twice as long, because after they dropped me off they had to go all the way back.

I sure didn’t appreciate him even suggesting he wouldn’t fulfill his part of the agreement.  If I told my parents, they sure wouldn’t, either.  I finally got him to do what we had planned all summer to do.

I doubt my parents would have let him stay with them without me those extra weeks.  I believe they would have been irate.

After he neglected fixing his faulty brakes all summer, how dare I insist he finally get them fixed when it was the last possible day to do it before he drove us back to school, so we wouldn’t get killed.

If he saw a big-breasted, pretty girl in the drive-through, and told me how much he wanted to take her in the back of his minivan, how dare I get upset instead of laughing and taking it.

A friend of Phil’s called up one day and said, “Your dad says you two are perfect for each other.”

Phil said, “Oh, I don’t know.”

I was, of course, upset at this.  Phil made some excuse, like, “perfect” is a strong word and nobody’s absolutely perfect for each other.  Now, I believe this was a lie.

****

By the way, I found this article inspiring: “Spilling Secrets,” August 2006 issue of Writer’s Digest.  Synopsis: “Revealing dark, personal secrets can be cathartic for an author and inspiring for readers, as these authors have proved.”

Because of this article, I have new determination to keep going in these memoirs, and reassurance that it is good to get out these “dirty little secrets” in nonfiction rather than just cloaking them in fiction.

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:

 

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:

 

 

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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