Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Category: college memoirs (page 1 of 34)

So Phil, my abusive ex-husband, is back in the hospital….

I wrote recently, here and here, about revelations about my ex Phil.  To sum up, Phil–my spiritual husband in college, who turned out to be very emotionally and sexually abusive, with a pattern of broken, abusive relationships, story here–was engaged for a third time.  (After me, he was legally married to another woman for ten years.  It has been about 11 years since their divorce.)  I found out about her one day when looking at his Facebook profile, trying to find out why his own sister filed a restraining order against him.  I will call the latest fiancée, Doris.

I checked out Doris’ profile a couple of months later–and learned that Phil was diagnosed as bipolar in 2010.  He hadn’t been taking his meds for some time, so brain cells were being destroyed–and the effect on his behavior was too much for her.  They mutually broke up.

I forgot–because Doris didn’t seem to know for sure at the time, and at that time, mostly posted about Bipolar II–that he also has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).  Instead of Bipolar II, she has been posting lately about FAS.

I had no idea his mother had been an alcoholic.  I knew she smoked a lot when his brother was born, so they all joked that it affected his brain, because he talked like it was missing a few cells.  I also knew that the brother drank too much as well for a time, leading to an accident, leading to him losing his license for a while, so Phil kept having to drive him around.  But I didn’t know about the mother’s alcoholism.  There was nothing physically unusual about Phil; in fact, instead of short, he’s 6’5.  Yet his mother drank enough that it has affected Phil his entire life.

Now, originally, Doris pinned his bad behavior on the Bipolar, calling him Bipolar Phil.  But lately she’s pinning it on FAS.  From what I’ve learned about Bipolar since, that seems more likely, because Bipolar is not supposed to be a cause of abuse.  FAS, on the other hand, is linked to all sorts of terrible behaviors which cause trouble throughout the person’s life.

For example, I’m learning that Phil has not been able to hold down a job for long.  Years ago, when he posted about the divorce from Wife #2 on one of those websites that link up classmates, he blamed it on his wife.  He said she refused to “support” him by moving to the city of M– when he got a teaching certificate and a contract there.

Being a math teacher was supposed to bring him stability–yet he hasn’t had a job for a while, and was about to go into a new line of work when his brain went haywire.  What happened to teaching?  A check online reveals that he still has a certificate, so why can’t he do that?  In any case, FAS is linked to job instability.

FAS is linked to trouble staying in relationships.  Phil’s exes seem to be able to find long-term relationships, while he himself is not.  I found a new guy shortly after our divorce, and have been married for 21 years.  Wife #2 found a new guy shortly after the divorce, and has been with him for 10 years now.  Phil found Doris a few years ago, but they’re no longer together.  Admittedly, I don’t know about Phil’s dating life since he divorced Wife #2, but obviously nobody lasted long enough for him to marry her.

FAS is also linked to suicide.

A few days ago, Doris posted that Phil’s mother was bothering both her and him about some petty matter (I won’t go into detail).  It reminds me of Phil’s girlfriend after me, Persephone, calling his mother “Dragon Lady.”

Then a couple of days ago, Doris posted that Phil is back in the hospital, “on watch.”

I googled “on watch,” and “suicide watch” came up.  😮

And this all reminds me of how upset and sad I was when Phil broke up with me, all those years ago.  I thought he was the One.  He was handsome, and we had been passionately attracted to each other.  In the beginning, he seemed nice, sweet, caring.  He was goofy.  Talented.  Smart.  A geek (a good thing).

Doris wrote, How can she easily move on from someone who said such sweet things about her?  He said the same things to me, so I can relate.

During the months after the breakup, he did a few things which suggest that he would’ve tried to get me back, if Hubby-to-be were not already there.  After divorcing Wife #2, he told me that he and his mother both thought I was the one girl he should’ve held on to.  But by then, I had been married for 10 years.

Well, just think: If we had stayed together, this all would have been MY life: turbulent, Dragon Lady mother-in-law, unable to keep a job or even a profession, living in an apartment instead of our own house, and mental health issues which could lead to me being a widow at age 45 because of suicide.

Heck, even Doris couldn’t handle it.  And she is still where I was about 24 years ago.

It makes me appreciate my husband more, despite the ups-and-downs we’ve been through.

At first, Phil blaming his behavior on Bipolar seemed to me a way to manipulate Doris into thinking she should stay with him.  But the FAS makes it more likely that his behavior does indeed stem from a sickness.

Of course, there is the usual question: How far should you blame behavior on a disease, and how much should that person take responsibility for?  Maybe it wasn’t him being Evil, but him with a sickness.  And maybe he knows it wasn’t my fault when–or even if–he remembers what he did to me.  It does make it easier for me to forgive him.

And worry about him.  After she posted that–and a bunch of Vaguebooking posts about angels and death and what looked like a memorial to Phil–I freaked out a bit.  It sounded like somebody she loved had died.  Had he already–??!!

But a couple of days later, I see no death notices in the M– paper, nothing on his family’s FB profiles.  On Doris’ FB I see a lot about positive thinking, and moving on, and her experiences trying to date again, and sadness about the end of the relationship with Phil–but nothing about him doing anything to himself.  So maybe he’s still physically okay.  Mentally–another story.  Doris posted that he’s “fighting for his life.”

On FAS and whether it can co-exist with other disorders:

RESULTS:
Eighteen of the 25 subjects had received psychiatric treatment. The most common axis I disorders were alcohol or drug dependence (15 subjects), depression (11 subjects), and psychotic disorders (10 subjects). The most common axis II disorders were avoidant (six subjects), antisocial (four subjects), and dependent (three subjects) personality disorders.

CONCLUSIONS:
This study suggests that adults with fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol effects suffer from substantial mental illness.
Mental illness in adults with fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol effects.

 

Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause permanent structural, neurological and functional impairments to the developing fetal CNS. …Functional impairments can include attention and impulse control problems, hyperactivity, learning disorders, memory deficits, and disorders of communication and executive functioning.

Red Flags for Referral:

    • Adult was raised in foster care or adopted
    • History of chemical dependency/child protection
    • Adult has received many diagnoses such as ADHD, Autism, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Bi-Polar Disorder, etc.
    • Adult is easily distracted, hyperactive, inattentive, impulsive
    • Adult consistently displays extreme behavior (aggression, emotional instability)
    • Adult has been involved with the criminal justice system
    • Adult gives inconsistent answers to questions, or can repeat a rule but fail to follow it
    • Adult makes the same mistakes repeatedly
    • Adult displays difficulties in holding a job

…Adults may also have many other disorders that come from living with FASD without support. Because FASD can look like many other mental health diagnoses, adults may go undiagnosed for the primary disorder: FASD.  Common misdiagnoses for individuals with an FASD include ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Psychotic Disorders, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Reactive Attachment Disorder. —FASD: Identification and Diagnosis

 

According to researcher Ann Streissguth (1996), mental health problems are experienced by 94% of individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).  One of the hallmarks of FASD is poor impulse control.  In many cases an impairment exists that warrants a formal diagnosis of Impulse Control Disorder (ICD). …Most individuals with FASD have symptoms of one or more Impulse Control Disorders.

…Impulsive behavior seems to have an underlying pre-disposition which may or may not be related to existing mental health or medical conditions but research over the past decade has stressed the substantial co-morbidity of Impulse Control Disorders with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, personality disorders, and with other specific impulse control disorders.

…Some Major Mental Disorders are often associated with impulsivity while the individual is in a psychotic state. This is particularly true of Bipolar Disorder where the impulsive behaviour is most often associated with the manic phase.

Impulse Control Disorder are often present in a number of specific Personality Disorders, primarily borderline, anti-social, narcissistic, and histrionic. Impulsivity in the form of risk-tasking behaviours, sexual promiscuity, gestures and threats of self-harm and other attention-seeking behaviours. They are less prevalent in avoidant, dependant, obsessive compulsive personality and other disorder types. —Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Impulse Control Disorders

 

But then I found this post on a forum:

Sorry, but if this person was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, that is organic brain damage….

His behavior, no matter how bad, is due to this, not mental illness or borderline. If a person has fetal alcohol syndrome, they were PHYSICALLY damaged before they were even born and will need lifelong caretaking as they don’t understand right from wrong which is WAY different from borderlines, who do and can learn to change. A FAS person can NOT change.

Also, doctors who don’t “get it” often diagnose it as something other than the obvious. That is sort of the same as borderline (the only thing that is). I was diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar, never borderline. Same happens with FAS and meds usually do no good. Regardless of whatever else he may be diagnosed with, his brain damage is his main problem. I have to wonder about any doctor who gave somebody with FAS a dx. of bpd.

Beating up this poor man is not the same as taking on a borderline. It’s like picking on somebody with Alzheimer’s for behaving badly. This is a disabled individual who is not going to respond to psychiatric treatment

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome does not go away nor can it improve. ….fetal alcohol syndrome is nothing even connected to borderline. You will lack the right connections in the brain to make good decisions with FAS.

…Fetal alcohol syndrome has Swiss Cheese thinking…you can remember something one day, forget it the next. You can’t concentrate due to brain damage. You are an emotional rollercoaster, but it’s due to the alcohol syndrome.

…[T]he biggest problem with this person isn’t borderline or any personality disorder or any mental illness…he victimized nobody on purpose. He is the victim.

I think it’s important the people understand there is a big difference between any personality disorder and the victim of fetal alcohol syndrome. —Posted here

Doris is calling it FAS, but the information I find suggests FAE, because of Phil’s lack of physical deformity or retardation.  In any case, it is possible that his behavior can legitimately be blamed on this.  In which case, as mentioned above, blaming him for it can be like blaming a person with Alzheimer’s.  Except that he seemed too rational to me, his actions too calculated, to be blameless….

 

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Is this why my ex Phil was so abusive?

These have been a couple of months of revelation!  First, I learned that my abusive ex Phil was getting married again.  I wrote about it here, puzzling over the “gentle giant” his fiancee described, wondering if it’s possible for someone to change that much, wondering how long it would be before Evil Phil manifested himself to her.

Well, Evil Phil has manifested, and their engagement is at an end.

But that’s not all.  It’s more complicated than that.

Yes, she wrote about him like he was the love of her life.  He wrote about her in such glowing terms that yes, it reminded me of when he was with me, before Evil Phil took his place.

It reminds me of a tumultuous but passionate relationship that has inspired and continues to inspire me to replay it in various works of fiction and memoir ever since.  The latest form is in my latest unfinished novel, with Heinrich and Madge, forever bound together even though they betray each other over and over again.

Of course this all looks like narcissism: a playbook, being followed by the narcissist in each of his relationships, because this is what the descriptions of narcissism all tell us.  That it’s all fake, love-bombing, meant to hook us before the real him comes out, abusive and horrid.

But in this case, it’s more complicated than that.

It’s enough to make me wonder if maybe, all those years ago, those flowery words–those praises–that wonderful, glowing happiness–was the Real Phil.  If maybe he did mean it after all.

(Because admit it, after you’ve been hooked by the love-bombing of a narcissist or abuser, then find out it was all fraud, it hurts to learn that you weren’t really loved like that after all.)

Because yes, new fiancee–now ex-fiancee–insists that this is the Real Phil, that he really meant all he said to her.  But she can’t handle Evil Phil, who is dangerous, so they mutually decided to end it.  She’ll still be there to support him, but as his friend, not his wife or lover.

And now here’s why:

It seems that rather than the narcissism I suspected, Phil’s behavior has a different cause.  He was diagnosed in 2010 with bipolar disorder II.  (I never knew about this until tonight.  We were together in 1994, long before then.)  He took meds for a while, but then stopped for about five years.

This has screwed up his brain so bad that he is now hospitalized.  Current estimates are that he’ll stay there around a month.

Evil Phil manifested himself to her recently.  She talks about him like he’s two different people in the same body, a sweet normal guy, and Bipolar Guy who doesn’t like anybody.  She hinted at dealing with deceit and manipulation–which I certainly dealt with from him in spades–but said it was a manifestation of the bipolar.

She posted this video to explain what Bipolar II is.  It says that Bipolar II is also associated with personality disorder.  So–maybe narcissism or borderline did also influence his actions?

This leaves me conflicted.  One, this is proof that Phil’s treatment of me was not my fault, that he was suffering from a disease which drove him to be cruel.  There is huge healing–and forgiveness–in such knowledge.

But Two, I wonder what was the disease, and what was him.

Now I wonder if I should change anything that I wrote about Phil here on my website.  Or maybe I should just keep it all as a testament to what abuse does to its victims, and the struggle they go through to understand and heal from it, no matter what drove him to act that way.

This website describes how bipolar sufferers can become controlling–which Phil certainly was.  Overwhelming anger.  Overspending.  Yes.

This website explains why bipolar sufferers can turn into manipulative liars during mania.

This website shows how bipolar can lead to abuse.

This is an informative question-and-answer session (with transcript) answering several of my questions.

How much was normal Phil?  How much was Bipolar Phil?  I don’t know.  It’s so hard to tell for sure, because much of his abuse was covert and went on for months, and some of it started even while he was still being sweet.  Maybe this also explains why members of his family have given up on him.  Maybe they don’t know for sure, either.  Maybe they don’t trust him.

I would have a hard time trusting him, his tears and depression at being ravaged by bipolar.  This is because–after going to his friends in a fit of crying and depression in September 1994–he told me that it was all an act to manipulate them.

Maybe this is why his sister took out a restraining order on him, some action of Bipolar him.

Maybe this is why she never showed up to the hearing, so it was dismissed: because she heard he was hospitalized.

I find people on the Net saying bipolar does not cause abuse or violence, that it comes from other sources.  But yet here’s Phil’s ex saying that it IS the bipolar causing his bad behavior, that it’s actually been damaging his brain tissue.

She says normal Phil would never hurt a fly, while Bipolar Phil is different from this–

Yet the Phil I knew hurt me constantly–traumatized me with long-lasting effects–over a period of months with manipulation, chauvinism, control, verbal and emotional abuse, even sexual abuse.  It left me with the occasional thought, “Did I deserve it?  The cruel things he said about me–Were some of them true?”

He was an actor, originally wanting to do that for a living; he acted in real life, not just on stage.

He himself told me that he was so good at acting that he manipulated people, not just me.  He proudly told the story of how he manipulated his mom into buying him a book when he was little.

He even had his own flying monkey, indoctrinated with stories of my alleged abuses of him.  His next girlfriend also suffered from his abuse.  My friends witnessed him manipulating and verbally abusing the girlfriend after that, the one he legally married.

This was months, well over a year, maybe a few years, when all this played out, him abusing me, then the next, then the next, with my friends as witnesses.  Since it went on for years, was this really him?  Or was this a long-term manic episode?  Is his ex correct about him, or has he been conning her?

But maybe he’s truly sorry when he’s depressed and cries.  I suppose she would know best.  After all, now he’s under the care of doctors, not undiagnosed like he was in 1994.

Just the thought that he now RECOGNIZES his own behavior when bipolar takes over–that he does not blame the latest fiancee for it–makes me think that, hopefully, he realizes I’m not to blame for how he abused me all those years ago.

In any case, it tells me that the cause of the abuse was not me or anything I did.  It was the bipolar.  It is diagnosed by a doctor, so this can be confirmed as Truth, not just speculation.

This brings a kind of closure to the trauma.  I wonder if maybe it’ll finally heal the parts that were still sore.

It makes me wonder how far a mentally ill person is responsible for such abuse as Phil committed, when the abuse comes from the illness rather than a character defect.  It also makes me think that maybe he did actually love me, all those years ago, and wasn’t just manipulating me for whatever reason.

I wonder if, in such a case, anybody is really to “blame” for the end of a relationship.  For me–Well, it wasn’t my choice to end it, and I couldn’t change his mind, so my knowing it was mental illness, could not have made a difference.  For him–Does it absolve him of everything?  Can I say it was mental illness and he didn’t know what he was doing?

If we had known about the bipolar back then, would we still be together now?  I don’t know, but I don’t think some romantic notion of “what-if” would be realistic.

Because he almost married this woman, who still thinks the world of him, who knows all about the bipolar,

and yet they did not stay together.

Because she had to stay safe and he didn’t want to pull her down into it with him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Epilogue and Apology from My Abuser Phil–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–May 1995, Part 4

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.

That’s it for my college memoirs.

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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Graduation: Trapped at school–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–May 1995, Part 3

I decided to help Cugan move, which would be right after graduation.  This made him happy, because–except for one day when Bob and another guy helped–he had no one else to help him move the mountains of stuff he somehow fit into his claustrophobic apartment.

My plan was to stay with him until the W– shire had an event in June, then move back home.  There, I’d find a job, save money for a used car and computer, then move back to S–.

On one of our last days at school, probably Saturday, May 20, my non-graduating roommates and friends held a graduation party for us graduating seniors.  (Pearl and Sharon decided to add majors and take one more year.)

There was an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen, with layers of vanilla and chocolate, and chocolate fudge.  The top was decorated in honor of the graduates.  It was delicious.

They gave us presents and cards.  Mine included a note paper cube depicting college students each year, and a purple warm fuzzy with a black graduation cap and gold tassel.

The cube depicted the same two students throughout their college years, one per side.  As freshmen, they were cleancut, bright, shining, happy students, the guy with a tie and the girl with a skirt and sweater.

Sophomore year, they had half-closed eyes, smiles not so wide but still happy, shorts, wild hair, earrings, and very casual shirts.

Junior year, they were “cool,” with sandals, messy clothes, more earrings, wild clothes, the guy’s hair long and the girl’s hair cropped, their eyes tired, their smiles dopey (the guy) or nonexistent (the girl).

Senior year, they dressed professionally, the girl’s hair long and the guy’s hair cut short, looking like businesspeople–except with bags under the eyes on their bright, shining faces.

When I started work at an insurance company right after July 4, this sat on my desk under a small length of chain mail that Donato or Cugan gave me.  The warm fuzzy sat on my computer.

My roommies and I promised to keep in touch with each other, which we did.  Remember, this is when everyone got e-mail, and in the 2010s, Facebook!

Saturday, May 20.  Graduation finally came, and all this was resolved: Phil, Peter, Shawn, trouble after trouble in other areas–all these things were history.  I had a good man.

In only a few months, I proved Dirk wrong about me, that I would not end up an old maid.  I did nothing he advised unless I’d already been doing it.  I was just myself.

I’d hear young people, such as soon-to-be high-school graduates, complain about Wisconsin and that they wanted to get away from it as soon as possible.

Yet I, on the other hand, came from out of state and wanted to go back to Wisconsin because it was fun and interesting to me.

This was not an indictment against Indiana or South Bend, which probably had more things going on than my new city or S– did.

Rather, I was fascinated by the differences in culture and accent, and would miss these things if I stayed in Indiana.  I just knew that any friends I made in Indiana would hear me go on and on about how different things were in Wisconsin.  And, most of all, I wanted to be with my friends.

On graduation day, I didn’t go to the morning breakfast or baccalaureate service, which weren’t required and were far too early.  But I did go to the lunch and, of course, commencement, and then the reception (which I couldn’t wait for.)

Graduation.  Maura, Phil’s mother, graduated that day, and sat near me because the graduates sat together.  She gave me a warm hello.  When her turn came to get her diploma, friends and family cheered.  One of them cried, “Way to go, Maura!”

Taylor was there, I believe.  I don’t remember if Phil was there, but even seeing his mother made me feel weird.  She didn’t seem to like me any less for what had happened, but I hadn’t seen her since September.  Seeing her again reminded me of Phil.

Rather than this graduation being one of my happiest moments, I was sick of school and couldn’t wait for graduation to be over.  (I’ve since learned that Cugan felt the same way at his graduation.)

I was nervous, though I didn’t let my one or two minor mess-ups bother me.  (I found them amusing, actually.  I forget what they were, though I might have gone the wrong way once or stumbled into a chair.)

Get me outta here! I kept thinking.  I even felt this way as we filed out of the hall at the end.  All I wanted to do was be with Cugan and attend Mermaid’s, which I couldn’t because it was the same day.

I arranged with Pearl and Sharon, who were booked in that same apartment for next year, to use their storage room for a good amount of my stuff.  I gave them my dustmop, which I no longer needed.

I was to fetch the stuff later on after I got a job, got a car, and then moved back to S–, which I expected to do within the next school year.  Fortunately, this worked out, as I found a job, got a car, and moved to Fond du Lac less than two months later.

When all my things were packed in the car or stored in the storage room, and I had talked to and introduced Catherine to my parents, it was time to go.

The things in the car were to be loaded into a van belonging to Cugan’s dad, which Cugan took to Mermaid’s.

I called the Residence Life Coordinator (RLC) to check out, thinking it would just be a matter of telling her I was leaving, and then leaving.  I was only the first one to leave in my apartment, after all: Pearl and maybe the others would leave the next day.

But even though I was only the first to check out, RLC told me I couldn’t until all the furniture in the entire apartment was back in the original places.

!!!

I’d call her up and tell her things were ready, but she’d come over and say something still wasn’t right.

We were there for hours after the 4:00 reception (which was short and informal, and in the cafeteria).

I don’t remember how late we finally left, but it seemed like we never would.  We were pooped out and sick of it all, and just wanted to leave.  We also wanted dinner.

We feared Pearl wouldn’t be able to get around, since all the beds had to be set on the floor and not bunked, and the official arrangement was so impractical that it was hard even for the able-bodied to move around in the tiny bedrooms.

Pearl decided that she and her family would take care of the vacuuming the next day.

RLC found problems here and there to charge us all for, even though they were probably just normal wear and tear.

At long last, RLC okayed my leaving, so my parents and I fled.  We went to dinner (starving by now), then stayed overnight in a hotel.

I had no idea when I would see my roommates again.

The next day, my parents drove me to Mermaid’s, wondering who all the strange people were and what kind of group this SCA was, anyway.  (Mom feared they might be druggies.)  We found Cugan sitting with his tent, which I think he had taken down by then, and he looked happy to see me.  We loaded my things from the car and into his dad’s van, and then my parents left for South Bend.

Cugan, as autocrat, or the guy in charge, had to make sure the campsite was cleaned up properly by noon, when the event was officially over.  I helped sweep out cabins, and may have done other things as well, so I helped at Mermaid’s that year even though I didn’t even attend it.

Cugan found a lump in one of the beds in the dormitory–one of the college-age girls, still asleep.  He had hoped everyone was up and would be gone from the site by the time they were supposed to leave.

I later saw this girl by the horses in a long, white, flowing gown that reminded me of Melissa’s gown in Dragonslayer.  (Melissa was the first maiden shown being sacrificed to the dragon.  The name is only used in the novelization.)  This was my dream gown.

Cugan ran hither and thither and cleaned, wishing more of the shire members would help him.  Finally, cleanup was finished, everyone left the site, and his stressful time as autocrat was officially over.

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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Defending my Thesis; Graduating with Honors–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–May 1995, Part 2

Possibly on May 13 or a later date, Cugan and I took our new favorite movie, Much Ado About Nothing with Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson, to Laura’s house and showed it to the boarders there.

I had never been to Laura’s house before.  She lived outside of V–, a small town in M– County.  Her boarders were her boyfriend Bob, Shannon, Dan, Helena, and Helena’s two-year-old daughter, Ellie.  All of them were in the SCA.

Laura tended to pick up strays, both human and animal.

She lived in a moderate-sized, unfinished, red house on a moderate-sized farm.  The living room had no carpet, and it and the bathroom still seemed to be only half-done.  The living room was packed with stuff.

I don’t think Laura raised crops, but she did have a horse or two, and rabbits in the barn.  Cats and a large black puppy named Nala wandered around.

Soon, two cute, tiny puppies joined the group, Shannon’s puppies.  When he got older, the male tried to hump Nala, even though he was a toy breed and Nala was one of the largest breeds.  Eventually, unfortunately, Nala ate the female.  🙁

Ellie was as curious and mischievous as a two-year-old usually is, but the others didn’t childproof the house.  When she found the flour and covered the house with it before everyone woke up, they probably shouldn’t have been surprised, since the cupboard wasn’t locked.

Bob had a bad temper, which Laura didn’t put up with for long.  After all, she’d already been in a bad marriage, and left when the guy pointed a gun at her.  I sensed she was going to break up with him when I saw how annoyed she acted with Bob.  Cugan saw nothing.

Dan must have been lazy or a bad boyfriend, because one day he was thrown out of the house, and Shannon ended up marrying another guy.

****

The defense of my thesis was actually the last of my finals, since seniors took finals earlier than the other classes did.

On Monday, May 15, I defended my thesis in front of the panel of teachers I selected.  I forget who was in the panel.  I know Dr. Nelson and his wife were, and I suspect Thea, Todd and Christina also were.

The defense was set for ten a.m.; it lasted twenty minutes, and the teachers asked me questions.  Then I went outside the room, one of the conference rooms in Jubilee, and waited in the hall as they talked about my thesis behind the closed door.

Then Nelson came out and said they were impressed with my extensive reading (more than some of the teachers on the panel had done) and the quality of the work, and would give me an A-.  

Not only that, but Nelson put my thesis in the Roanoke library, along with past theses which were so honored, as an example for future students of a good thesis paper.  

Such an end to all the anxieties I held about this paper for three and a half years!  And at first I wasn’t even going to write one: I was going to drop out of the Honors Core program and take Senior Studies instead!

Now, I needed to re-type the thesis, and give it to Nelson.

Not only that, but the school informed me I would graduate cum laude and with honors.  Though I can’t find my final grades, my total GPA was between 3.5 and 3.59.

I got to wear a gold, braided cord for the ceremony, exactly the same as and worn exactly the same as the one given to NHS members in my high school graduation.

As I wrote in the Journal,

One more page of my thesis to type!! That’s the last of my homework. Wow. I can’t believe it. It still hasn’t hit me.

Last Wednesday as I sat in Chaucer, I thought, this is my last class. And I won’t be going to Chaucer or any other class, except for Brit Lit final.

–Such a thought! It made me sad, especially since I’ll miss Chaucer. That was a fun class. I’d recommend it, but Christina wouldn’t be teaching it next year. I’ll also miss Pearl’s CD’s. 🙂

I’m so happy to say I got an A- on that thesis!

****

On a Wednesday just before graduation, a guy came up to me at the information desk in the library.  He was pleasant-looking, and chatted with me for a bit, finding out my name and such.

I wasn’t deliberately flirting with him, but suspected he was interested.  Apparently my instincts on these things improved greatly over the years, because while I was on a date with Cugan, this guy called the apartment and asked for me.

Tara or Pearl answered, and told him I was away.  Somehow she ended up telling him I was at SCA dance practice with my boyfriend and dressed in medieval clothes, which he said sounded “so cool.”  Afterwards, Tara or Pearl chatted and one said to the other, “How does she do it?”

How do I do it?  They once asked this same question about Cindy, who despite having only one sort-of boyfriend before college, kept attracting guys at college.

I had such bad luck with men that I often felt like an ugly duckling–until the second half of senior year.  And now my friends were asking of me, “How does she do it?”  What a difference!

Later on, this guy called me and talked for a bit.  He asked me to dinner, but I said I wasn’t comfortable with that.  I didn’t know him all that well, and I had an exclusive boyfriend.

He seemed okay with that, and asked if he could get to know me as a friend, because he recently divorced and was looking for friends.  I said okay, but I didn’t see him in the library or hear from him again.

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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