controlling person

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am an introvert who needs to reflect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

****

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

****

By December 15 I sent Mike the following note:

Querido Miguel,

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

Estrella

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

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

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

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

Liebe Astrid,

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

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

Jutta-Uschi

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He told Pearl he didn’t say those things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

New definitions: Did Phil rape me?–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–November 1994, Part 4

My apartment building was now dubbed the Morland House.  The other was the Hill House.  I loved Northanger Abbey (by Jane Austen), especially the movie.  I would forever associate the name “Morland” with Catherine Morland, the heroine.  So it was funny and fitting to live in a building named Morland.

Pearl asked to use my phone one day, since her phone was out of order for some reason, so she sat on my bed (the lower bunk), where the phone was.  She told me later,

“I saw an Alice in Chains CD on top of a Sheila Walsh CD on your radio, and I thought, ‘That is so Nyssa!'”  She laughed.

(In case you don’t know, Sheila Walsh is a sweet, contemporary Christian music singer, once a rocker but now much more mellow.  It might have been the Dirt or Facelift Alice in Chains CD, and Sheila’s For A Time Like This, which is mellow but not too mellow.)

That night, I found another saying to use as Dolphin Philosophy.  It was taken from that wonderful show, My So-Called Life, and said by Brian: “How much more ironic can you get without vomiting?”

****

The following happened on Thursday, November 10, in the morning during the time I usually had Intro to Psych, since on that date I have a note in my day planner saying class would be in room 100.  This was the room I had for Botany junior year, and for entrance exams back in the spring of 1991.  In this room on the 10th, several classes filed in and a speaker told them about date rape.

He told us that if one person is drunk and someone has sex with them, it’s now considered rape because the alcohol impairs your reasoning abilities.

Among sober people, it’s also rape if she says no, if she feels it’s a rape, when he uses false pretenses or manipulation or guilt trips to get her to consent, or when she never actually says “yes.”  He gave examples of what he meant.

I don’t think he meant to stir up paranoia, but to make guys aware that they need to be careful what they do, and to help young college women realize they don’t have to be treated this way.

Soon after, I asked Pearl into my room, and we sat on my bed.  I told her this speaker’s examples and words made me realize that sometimes John did rape me:

There was the time we were having sex, and then he suddenly withdrew and tried to stick it in my anus, even though I begged him not to.  This was when he got upset because I said rape was grounds for divorce.  (I probably didn’t tell Pearl these details.)

He used begging, pleading, manipulation, guilt-trips and false pretenses as well, like with the “subconscious” thing and snipping “You always get your way” when I didn’t want to do it anally or orally.

(I’d heard about a guy who fought at the Alamo who’d pretend to marry a girl just to get her into bed; I now knew that would be rape.)

I didn’t even know yet that the time we got back together was just so he could get sex from me; that would be rape.

Pearl prayed with me, and said, “If you do get back together, you’ll have to deal with that first.”

We also talked about whether or not I should press charges, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to pull this into a court.  Still, knowing I could if I wanted to, made me feel powerful.

I didn’t want my parents to know what was going on, though.  I didn’t want the details of our relationship being made so public.  I may also have feared that the judge would throw it out of court, just because I consented to have sex with Phil.  I wasn’t sure what to call it, but it did feel like rape for the reasons I gave above.  Phil had violated my trust as well.

I remember Phil and I talking over an episode of “Picket Fences” in which the judge threw a rape case out of court.  The judge said it didn’t count just because the guy got the woman liquored up so she’d consent.

I think Phil and I disagreed over this part.  I don’t remember if we were talking about rape in general and he brought up this episode, or if we were talking about the episode itself.  But according to the speaker, yes, it would be considered rape, both because she was liquored up and because she felt like she’d been raped.

Recently (it’s January 1999) a guy called up MTV’s Loveline and said that he got drunk at a party, so drunk he couldn’t remember anything.  Then a girl told him they’d had sex and she was now pregnant.  He said, “I think I was raped.”

This also related to a “Picket Fences” episode, in which the annoying lawyer Wambaugh said a raped man’s member was, after all, “at attention” when it happened.  But I believe a doctor said he could’ve been erect due to fear, not attraction.

On Loveline, they wondered if the guy could have been able to hold an erection while drunk long enough to ejaculate, but it’s also been said that all you need is one little sperm, and some of them are released even before ejaculation.  That’s one reason why the “withdrawal” method of birth control doesn’t work.

Apparently the caller wondered if he could have had sex with this girl while drunk, and if what she said was true, then because he was drunk it was rape.

[Written 4/25/14:] This shows how confusing this issue got in the 90s.  I know I felt used by Phil, and he did sexually assault me once.  But whether or not it’s actually “rape” to manipulate someone into sex–I don’t know.

****

Then right after this conversation with Pearl, Phil sat with someone else at lunch, but back with Persephone (and my group) at dinner.  I was angry, because I had told him in the letter to stay away from me.

Once I got up to take my tray up and go to the bathroom, just to get away from him.  Pearl said his eyes kept straying to me, which he didn’t do before today.

Persephone left, but he stayed–making Pearl and me both fear he’d confront me right there at the table.  He sat there a few moments, head down, fists on his temples, said something to Charles, then finally got up and left.

****

The school play, Measure for Measure, ran from November 10-12 at 8pm each night.  I didn’t go to the first showing.  A guy in one of my classes said he went to the opening night performance, but the acting was bad and the words were all muted and unintelligible.  He couldn’t tell what was going on.

Pearl and I went to the play on Friday the 11th.  It was weird to see Phil in it, playing the role of Vincentio, Duke of Vienna.  I tried to remember that other people I knew and liked were in the play.  One of these days I’ll have to read the play and find out what happened, since that guy in class was right.  Even Phil didn’t sound convincing.

I dreaded having to sit and watch this guy I’d been trying to avoid and ignore.  He even had the lead role, so I had to see him most often.  During an intermission, I heard a girl near the bathroom say “Phil O’Hara” with a smile.  I think she was a freshman.  I cringed, wondering if she had a thing for him.

I wondered if he even knew I was there, if he could see me in the audience.  I suspected he could, but I’d also heard somewhere that with the lights off you can’t see the audience that well.  Later, I admitted to Pearl that while watching I discovered I did still love him, after all.

Usually, the actors and actresses in each play would come out in the lobby so you could congratulate them on their performances.  After Lucky Spot, Pearl and I had stopped to congratulate Phil.  This time, I don’t remember if we stopped to talk to our friends in the play, which we might have done, but we said not a word to Phil.

****

Sharon and I went on many walks that fall through the woods and down by the lake together.  We talked about many things, such as childhood games and friends.

We spotted the covered Friendship Bridge, which had been partially destroyed when a tree fell on it.  It later collapsed.  This might have happened in a storm.  The tree was still there when we saw it.  The school knew about this, and the Zetas were to build a new one.

I believe this was also the first time I ever saw the Friendship Bridge.  I know I saw this in the fall of 1994–though a Mirror issue says the Zetas built a new bridge in the summer of 1994–so they must have left the old one the way it was.

I discovered that Sharon agreed with me on people banging on the bathroom door, like Dave’s fiancée did to me.  Things don’t always move along for me like they should, or it comes continuously for a long time; one day, Tara came along, banged on the bathroom door, scared me half to death, and yelled, “Would you hurry up in there!”

Why didn’t she just lightly knock and politely ask, “Are you going to be in there much longer?”  I wasn’t in there for my own amusement.  I was so ticked.  And I later found that Sharon agreed with me: She called that “intimidation” and dysfunctional behavior.

Thus was cemented a lifelong friendship.  We still see each other now and then, though we’re in two different cities.

****

I wasn’t attracted to Mike when I first met him, back when I was in love with Shawn.  But now, he was so cute and sweet and moral, and I wanted to date him so bad. I dreamed of being with him, and wondered what it would be like to be a pastor’s wife.

I’d always admired spiritual people, like pastors and missionaries, and thought it would be cool to be married to one (unlike my mom, who protested back when Dad started studying for the ministry because she’d never wanted to be a pastor’s wife).

I also saw them on TV and movies, and wanted a man like them (for example, How Green Was My Valley and an episode of The Campbells in which the Campbell girl thinks a traveling, young pastor wants to marry her).

Back when I had a crush on Phil junior year, I also had a crush on Mike.  I couldn’t decide which one I wanted most.  They both showed signs of possibly liking me back, though Phil’s were stronger.

I can remember walking next to Mike in the parking lot at the Susan Ashton concert, feeling like I belonged there.  At the same concert, as Susan told us all about her pastor-husband, I thought how cool it would be to marry Mike and have my own pastor-husband.  At that point, my crush on Mike was stronger than the one on Phil.

As Dad drove me home from Roanoke at the beginning of Thanksgiving Break, I thought of both of them as we rode through the darkness.  Finally, there was someone besides Shawn or Peter for me to dream of, someone I might actually get to date.  Not some elusive dream, like James, whom I’d also tried asking out.

But by December, a lack of signs from Mike and an abundance of signs from Phil, plus Phil’s physical appearance and oddness and Christian beliefs and apparent niceness, tipped the scale in Phil’s favor.

(Mike’s niceness was real, but not Phil’s, but I didn’t know that yet.)

You know what happened next.

Around that time I heard some guy call “Nyssa” from an upper library window as I passed, but I couldn’t see who it was.  I always wondered if it was Phil, but he insisted it wasn’t him.  I even asked his “subconscious,” who said it wasn’t him but he wished it was.

I wonder now what it would’ve been like if I’d asked Mike out instead of Phil.  I was afraid to ask Mike out senior year because at the beginning of the year he told Pearl, “I know she likes me, and I don’t know what to do about it.”  Phil had told him, as I mentioned before.  But I kept hoping he’d change his mind and decide he wanted to be with me.

I kept trying to attract his notice by dressing well (he said he liked this in a girl), taking off my glasses in his presence to clean them and show him what my face really looked like, talking with him about Intro to Christianity, things like that.

Once or twice I had to pass him in the apartment hall in a T-shirt nightgown and my robe, which was hot pink and really nice-looking.  I wondered if this would stir any passion in him.

Yet he never made a move, and I wondered if it was futile.  But I have to give him credit: He was nice to me, but without leading me on.  Some guys will be mean to you.  I also never “threw” myself at him, so he had nothing to rebuff.

****

Those brown Dodge Caravans were everywhere that fall!  Phil’s model was very popular.  (They were popular in 1993 and 1994, but Phil’s was from around 1984, which confuses me now because how could a 10-year-old van be suddenly popular?)

I used to like it, and there was another one on my street that past summer, which we thought was funny.  We always had to check the license plate in a parking lot because it was easy to get confused.

Now, they reminded me of Phil, which I did not want.  One of the other students, a female non-trad, also owned one.  So I saw them a lot, and always had to check the license plate or the driver to see if it was his.

Even worse, Phil kept parking his minivan in the lot next to my apartment building, in view of my window.  I knew he was probably either in Muehlmeier seeing Persephone (doing who knew what) or in my own apartment building seeing Dirk.

Did he park there deliberately so I’d know he was there?  He wasn’t supposed to park there, but by Grossheusch, according to campus rules.  I kept hoping he’d get a ticket.  He rarely parked by Grossheusch.

Was he trying to upset me?  He knew I lived there.  He knew I had to walk right by the parking lot to get anywhere on campus.  And he usually parked right next to the sidewalk.  It was all I could do to restrain myself from kicking the tires.  But I forced myself to restrain, because I knew it was right.

On the 12th, I wrote this to friends:

I also want to say I’m feeling happier now than I have for a while.  And the day after I wrote in the journal about this hate and anger I didn’t know how to deal with, I had to re-shelve some books in the religion section of the library.

I had several spiritual questions, and started looking over the titles to see if there was a book that could help me.  And there was a little white paperback called Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts you Don’t Deserve.  So I snatched it up and checked it out at the desk.

It’s been quite helpful, and even though I still think what’s-their-name is an idiot and a jerk, it seems my hatred has lost some of its intensity.  The problem is that I keep wanting to hang onto it, but the book says, hatred’s power is short-lived.  It may give you power, but it won’t last as long as the power forgiveness gives you.

The book also told me to confront the person who’s hurt me, and tell them just what they’ve done to me.  I did just that in a letter, and I feel so much better now because of it.

They had been going on their merry way like they didn’t know the damage they left in their wake, but a day or two after they got the letter, I could tell they now had a better concept of what they’d done.  I now pray that God will convict this person, because He’s the only one who can.

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:

 

I confront Phil about his abuse–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–November 1994, Part 2

On the third, Persephone and I joked about how Phil squanders his money.  I mentioned the tithe-disagreement when he said he’d handle our finances, and she said, “I’m never gonna marry him.  I’m not crazy!”

On the fourth, I wrote in my diary,

“I’m a better person when I’m not around you.”  Hogwash.  [And also, from accounts of his next girlfriends, not at all true.]  You’ve got to take responsibility for your own actions, since nobody makes you act cruel unless they hold a gun to your head or something.

If you treat me like dirt, if you feel like a bad person around me, that’s your problem, not mine.

On the fifth or sixth, Saturday or Sunday, my roommies and I were walking back from lunch when lo and behold, I saw Phil and Persephone off in the distance, walking on the drive over by the marshy field beyond.

I couldn’t believe it.  I have recorded many different times when Phil and I somehow “happened” to be in the same place at the same time, no matter how unusual.

When we had class at the same time and in the same building, it was understandable, but this often wasn’t the case.  It was as if Phil knew where I was at all times and made an effort to be in my sight.

If, in those days, American society had already grown paranoid about stalkers (which they were in the late 90s), I probably would have asked the question, Is Phil stalking me?

As it was, I was very upset, seeing yet again a reminder of how quickly he threw me away and looked for a replacement chick, after having insisted for months and months that we were truly man and wife.

On November 3, I had just prayed for help forgiving Phil.  I had also just written in the Journal to my friends the day before about the hurt and anger I didn’t know how to deal with.

I had to shelve new books in the Religion section of the library.  So I looked around for books on knowing God’s will and other spiritual questions.

Then I saw this little, white paperback with the title, Forgive and Forget: Healing The Hurts We Don’t Deserve by Lewis B. Smeade.  (Here is an interview with the author which describes the book’s philosophy.)

I snatched up the book and put it on the cart to check out.

It said hatred was stage 2 of forgiveness.  It said that in order to forgive, first I must confront the person who wronged me–say how he wronged me, and that I hated him for it.  It had to be done, or I wouldn’t be able to release him in my heart, and he wouldn’t know that he did something wrong.

On pages 141-2, the author described a college teacher who trusted the chairman of her department to put in a good word for her.  Instead, he stabbed her in the back, and she lost her job.

She knew about it, but he didn’t know she did.  She pretended each day to day that it hadn’t happened; each night she’d go home and throw up.  Finally, she told him he’d done her wrong, “and I hate you for it.”  After that, she stopped throwing up after work.

Dr. Phil McGraw also says that sending a letter is sometimes necessary:

As you consider your own triggering event and the nature and degree of the suffering you’ve endured, what is your MER [Minimal Effective Response]?

Maybe you don’t feel the need or have the courage right now to do either one of the kinds of things that were contemplated for Rhonda. Maybe what you need to do is write a letter and write down all your thoughts and all your feelings. Maybe that does it for you.

Maybe you even need to mail the letter, if your event involves another person. Perhaps, like Rhonda, if you can’t mail the letter, then you might need to go to the offender’s grave and read it to him or her in the cemetery.

Whatever your MER is, you need to identify it and you need to do it. You need to emit that response until such time as you can say, “OK, that’s it. That’s enough. My lens is clean. My emotional business is finished and I am free to go back to being that person that I now know that I am.”

So I confronted Phil in a letter, which I let sit, told my dad about, and then showed to Pearl for advice before sending.  It’s often said that we should confront people rather than just complaining about them to other people, that the pain of confrontation is brief in comparison to the pain of having a problem continue.

The letter went into detail about the emotional abuse Phil had put me through.  

It made clear that I saw him with my last letter coming out of Muehlmeier, and that I felt there was nothing about that letter to upset him.  It chewed him out for showing it around rather than considering it.

It gave my perspective on the marriage, which is that it was real and valid.  

The letter explained that I had to confront him if I ever hoped to forgive him.

I prayed a lot over the letter, asking for guidance, for the proper words and content, for God to work his will through it, soften Phil’s heart for it, convict him through it….I felt it was God’s will for me to send it.

Phil never responded to the letter–probably because I told him not to unless he sincerely repented.  I didn’t want to talk about it.  I’d already had quite enough of his dismissals any time I tried to tell him he did something wrong.

I wanted him to stop sitting with us at meals and getting mushy with Persephone, to stop greeting me in the halls; I wanted to be left completely alone so my anger would cool down.

I wrote, “No more will I be walked over.”

Persephone found the letter accidentally, but after talking with me about it, decided she had nothing to be angry with me about.

After reading this letter over again almost 20 years later, I would have deleted some things, though I put them in there for a valid reason.  But they could be misunderstood or seen as arrogant.

But I understand them: I was furious with him because, as I have shown over the course of these memoirs, he had emotionally, psychologically, and sexually abused me since we started dating.

I expressed so much anger because he ripped my spirit in two with his constant psychological abuse, gaslighting, playing hoaxes, and attempts to force me into painful or disgusting sex.

He sexually assaulted me.

He tried to change history on me and lie to me numerous times about my own behavior, to make me think I was bad, when I never did what he accused me of.

He shamed me and cut me down over and over again for things which were not wrong, such as solving a puzzle on a game differently than he would, simply so he could control me with his fury and verbal abuse.

The pain was still raw, and immediately after breaking up with me, he started up with a new girl.  He sat with my friends and me all the time to be with this new girl, and got cuddly and cutesy with her right in front of me, deliberately rubbing in my face that he had moved on already.

He told lies about me to his friends, a smear campaign to make others think I was the abuser.  He was still trying to control and abuse me after the relationship was over.

5 years later, I still saw it as an excellent letter, though I already saw the things that needed changing.  Even 12 years later, when I posted these accounts on the Web in 2006, I still thought it was a good letter, with nothing to be ashamed of.

In any case, the letter never threatened or begged; it gave my point of view completely, and told him to stay away from me so I could calm down my anger.  It was brief, only about 4 typed pages.

I did not yet know the terms emotional abuse, sexual abuse (forcing me to do things I didn’t want to do), psychological abuse, or gaslighting.

But this and the previous letter described many of his abuses, and begged him to get counseling for himself.  It even directly accused him of abusing his authority as head of the wife.

It’s a relief to read this many years later, because I did indeed confront my abuser with his abuses, and do not have that “unfinished business.”

This part I would not touch; it is the best part of the letter:

During our marriage I may’ve done a few things I shouldn’t have, but you’ve done your own things that make me think you just don’t know how to respect or love a wife.  Some of the things you say to your own mother were warnings to me, but I hoped you wouldn’t treat me the same.

And your refusals to respond to my needs in so many situations–only your “subconscious” really knew the proper way to treat a woman, and that’s why I fell in love with him.

Then I discovered he wasn’t even real, and that it wasn’t easy to get you to act like him, even though you said it was.  He was you, you said.  Yeah, right.

He was reasonable, unaccusing, cool-headed.  He could compromise.  He didn’t demand his wants over my needs, nor make me feel like I had to be a meek little slave to please you. 

He wouldn’t flat-out refuse to do something I needed done just because he didn’t want to, he’d have a legitimate reason. He wouldn’t force himself on me in ways that pained me, he’d slowly get me to want them. 

He wouldn’t take and take all I was willing to give, which was a lot, and then not give me what I asked for. He wouldn’t be chauvinistic nor treat me like a silly and naïve woman, when really I could often reason better or was better informed. 

[At first this seemed arrogant, but then I saw that he treated me like “a silly and naïve woman.”  It wasn’t about arrogance, but protested being treated like an idiot.]

He didn’t abuse his authority as head of the wife, or be a tyrant.

This isn’t a question of being meant for someone, this is a question of examining yourself and the way you treat your wife, changing what you can change and not taking the defeatist attitude that you can’t, learning to compromise, and thinking how your stage of rebellion (which really isn’t against me) can be gotten through without hurting and alienating the people who love you the most.

I feel sorry for Persephone, who has yet to learn these things about you.

Since he never apologized or repented during that time (at least, that I ever heard), and carried on his behavior to subsequent relationships, I was probably talking to a brick wall.  But somebody had to confront him.

Persephone also confronted him, calling him an a–hole for things he did to me and told her about.  Knowing her, she probably also confronted him about things he did to her.

So there you have it: First, I went to him directly with my concerns.  Then I discovered that Persephone told him off for the things he did to me.

Yet he did not repent.

Since we had no church in common, and he no longer went to InterVarsity meetings, there was no way to “tell it to the church.”  The next stage, adapting Matthew 18:15-17 to my situation, was to stop associating with him.

On the 8th, praying on the way, I pinched the letter as a symbolic “laying on of hands,” then dropped the letter in the Campus Center mailbox.  I went into the Campus Shoppe for a bit, then started out.

But who should open the door for me, but Phil!  How did he, a commuter on a campus with more than 1000 students enrolled, always show up in the same place and time as me?

I stared straight ahead and walked past him.  As I wrote in my diary the next day,

It is done.  It makes me nervous, but there’s also that consciousness of doing the right thing–facing up to my tormentor, taking no more of this abuse.

Pearl also has a theory on why I keep running into him all the time: Maybe God’s trying to teach me endurance.  Hm.

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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