Phil Mindscrews Me: changes history, blames me for things that were not my fault, treats me like an idiot during games–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–August 1994, Part 3

In an August letter to Clarissa, I described a headache which two of those mail-order music companies put me through, Word and Columbia House: I sent my May cards back in plenty of time to refuse the month’s latest “tell us no or we’ll send it automatically” selections, almost a month before the due date, along with address changes from Roanoke to my home.

Yet for some strange reason, they kept sending cards to Roanoke–along with the selections I rejected!  Then when the selections were forwarded to my house (one was COD for some unknown reason!), I sent them back.

Then I got letters scolding me for either (Word) not paying for a CD I’d already sent back, or (Columbia House) not telling them I wanted to reject the selections.

!!!!!!!!!!

I was furious, annoyed and irritated, dealing with this all summer long, when I had done everything I was supposed to, and had done nothing wrong.

I don’t recall when I finally cancelled these accounts, after all these years.  This probably had something to do with it.

Sometime afterwards, I tried BMG, which eventually moved everything to a website, sometime between 1998 and the 2000s.  I used the website to reject a selection, only to get it anyway.  Or to order another, and not get it.

I finally washed my hands of music clubs completely, and now get my stuff from Amazon.  This “tell us no or we’ll send it” method is ridiculous.  I recommend staying away from clubs like this.

Another thing I wrote in that letter:

You won’t believe what station just drowned out Q101 (Chicago) for a few minutes and came in quite clearly: WIXX!  They identified themselves as WIXX–Green Bay, and I about freaked.  That station that you can’t pick up past S–, drowned out a Chicago station across the river?!  (8/3–Phil tells me they were going to boost their power.)

****

Phil almost lost his legs one day!  He came home and said his friend at work was driving the forklift (or some other kind of machinery) and didn’t see Phil there, picking up metal strips (or tubing or whatever it was).  At the crucial moment, one of them saw the other and tragedy was avoided.

I felt that if I hadn’t prayed for him every day when he went to that factory (always fearing such incidents), and if they hadn’t seen each other in time, Phil would have lost the lower half of his legs, at or below the knee.  He was glad I’d been praying for him.

His legs were in pain for a few days.  After this, I prayed even more fervently for his safety at the factory each day.

Phil didn’t think he’d have to work the next day, but that he would just go in, report the incident, and come back home to recover.  I expected to see him again within the hour after he left.

But his foreman said that because he didn’t report the incident right after it happened, he wasn’t eligible for compensation, and had to stay and work.  I guess it was harder to prove it actually happened on the job, though his friend could back up his story, but the foreman should at least have let Phil take a sick day.  It just didn’t seem fair.

****

Probably in July, Phil made up some character sheets for my new character, Phoena Palindrome, and we started playing Dungeons & Dragons with her.

She was a half-elven, bard meistersinger, with gold hair like the Crayola crayon.  I wrote up a whole background for her.  Phil found that strange, though I hear that’s common.

We went around the house looking for dice, since Phil didn’t bring most of his, just his players’ handbook, bard’s handbook, big Monstrous Compendium notebook and maybe a few other books.

We had to improvise with six-sided dice, though I do remember a cool, red, twenty-sided one with pink flecks, and possibly a gold nugget.  Maybe he used these for his Dungeon Master rolls.  There were big ones, small ones, red ones, tiny ones I found in a game.

Phil had to type up character sheets on the Microsoft Word Processor, because he had no real character sheets.

Later, I started a new character, Fury, a druid, meant to complement Phoena and be her more sensual cousin, so I could have a little more fun with her.  (Phoena was saving herself for marriage.)

She had proficiencies Phoena lacked, and few of Phoena’s proficiencies.  (If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry about it.)  Their first and last names, by the way, were Phil’s idea, since he said he knew what kind of names an elf might have.  Phoena’s name was spelled “Ph” because I liked it better.

I faithfully recorded every adventure Phoena had, and noted I didn’t like the many fights she had with other creatures.  She didn’t like fighting, but it seemed the only way she ever had adventures to write songs about.

Phil said that as Dungeon Master, his games were battle-oriented.  He was proud of this, but I found it boring.  Phil soon brought in Darken, a dwarf, to help Phoena get out of fights alive.

He told me once that I was better at this and getting the hang of it faster than anyone else he knew.

Finally, something of more interest than constant fighting happened: Phoena was sold as a love-slave.  On the way to her master’s home, she rode along in a cart with his other slaves, all male, not love slaves.  One, a cute elf, took a special liking to her.

Phoena, by the way, never wanted to settle down with anyone, and kept breaking hearts.  Phoena got away from her master with her virginity intact, answered a sphinx’s question, and continued her adventures.

****

Phil began complaining about what he gave up to be there with me, reproaching me with it, as if it were my fault somehow.  He said he would’ve had steel-toed boots and not had to buy them, he would’ve had his own suits, he would’ve had this or that.

He mentioned an opportunity for doing a demo tape of his voice, which he would use to get announcing jobs on the radio or TV.  The sub for the theater director told him about this in the spring, while the director had heart trouble.  The sub was an accomplished actor, and loved Phil’s abilities.

I don’t know the circumstances, why Phil didn’t just go earlier or later.

Phil talked about these things as if I made him give them up, which I hadn’t.  I never forced him to come down to Indiana, had resigned myself to not seeing him all summer.  Then he said he wanted to take me down there, take my mom’s offer for him to stay with us, and find a job.

He defied his parents to do this, even though my mom said she didn’t want him disowned over this, and I did not want him to defy or lie to his parents.  The true story is in the May chapter.

But now he changed history on me, trying to make me think I forced him into this against his wishes, so now it was all my fault he had to buy new boots and didn’t make that demo tape.

Did he seriously expect me to buy this?  This, by the way, is more gaslighting, a common tactic of abusers and narcissists.

In December, he told a friend that I made him go down there, that my parents wanted to see if we should get married.  When I confronted him with it in a letter, he acted to Pearl like he didn’t say that.

But you see here that he did say it to me, and that he was a gaslighting liar, so why should I believe he did not tell Randy that?

Also, he admitted to me in September that he manipulated people for his own ends, so why shouldn’t I believe that he told Randy this, then when it got back to me, pretended to Pearl that he never did?

A smear campaign to discredit the abuse victim, is another common tactic of abusers: If his friends all think I’m controlling and crazy, they won’t believe me when I tell the truth about what he did.

Also, all that time, over all those months since January 28 when we started going out, I thought Phil had been nice to Tracy during the breakup.  I thought she accepted everything, said she never expected he would stay with her, anyway, because she knew where his heart truly lay.

This was how he explained it to me.  He said he opened doors for her after the breakup and tried to be nice.  When she began hating him and told his mom he treated her badly, I thought it was spite, and wondered where it came from after she’d been so understanding.

(Typical abuser tactic: paint the ex as crazy or spiteful, so you don’t believe anything she says.)

But no.  This was not the case, after all.  One night in the kitchen, I found to my dismay that he broke up with her meanly.  He told her, “I’m sick of being a nice guy!”

Meaning, he was sick of being the nice guy who gave her a chance even though he was not attracted to her, but was in love with me.

Now, he also insulted me for “stealing him away” from Tracy.  He said if he saw a girl he wanted with another guy, he’d let them be.  He wouldn’t try to get her.

Never mind the fact that I only tried to “steal him away” because I asked him out first, he said he liked me rather than Tracy, and for his whole month with Tracy he kept showing and saying how much he wanted to be with me instead.  He did not love her; he just knew her better.  He loved me.

He spent all these months telling me how much he loved me, that he realized it before we went to Pearl’s party, etc. etc.  He also checked with her, and she said it was perfectly fine for him to date other people, because they were not exclusive.

All this is depicted in the December and January chapters, which include details taken straight from diary entries I wrote while this went on.

If he actually loved Tracy and not me, I would have left them alone.  But now he talked as if he were sorry I succeeded.

This fits with the abusive traits of gaslighting, berating, chastising and insulting.

And besides that, the timing was wrong, because he already liked me and already knew I liked him, so “going out” with her rather than choosing me was unfair to both Tracy and me.

It was unfair to me because I knew he liked me, and my feelings were hurt.  It was unfair to Tracy because it led her on, and set her up to get even more hurt by a breakup instead of a simple rejection.

In the spring, he also accused me of being responsible for her pain by not being “assertive” enough in going after him.

Um….First semester I barely knew him, barely ever saw him, except at Pearl’s parties.  He was a commuter, so I could not look him up in the campus directory.  Yet I worked up the courage to ask him out, a huge step for me.  I didn’t wait for him to ask me out.

The night we went out, I told him I was interested in him romantically.  So how exactly was I not “assertive” enough?

But this was his way of making me responsible for his hurting Tracy through his own careless behavior.  The latter part of summer was Phil putting one massive mindscrew on me, typical abusive and narcissistic behavior.

Here we were married, so we obviously belonged together, yet he insulted me for chasing him in the first place!  This is emotional and psychological abuse.

****

We’d been going to bed at about 5 am and getting up at 1 or 2 in the afternoon.  (Yes, you read that right.)  Phil came home, then we’d want to game, he’d play computer games, he’d have a frozen pizza for his dinner, we’d make love, we’d talk, we’d argue….It depended on the night.

Mom told me we shouldn’t go to bed so late.  It was weird to go to bed just when she got up, but Phil didn’t get home till after 11pm.  I slept when he did (though I got up sooner, since nine hours is a lot) so I could be with him when he was awake.

It was the only time I got to see him during the work week, especially since he woke up at 2pm or later and then rushed off to work, unwashed.

He said guys at the factory went to bed right after work and slept until about that same time.  Maybe they didn’t have wives or families, because their wives and/or children would want to see them sometime during the day.

Also, it’s hard to buy that, considering that midnight to 2pm is 14 frickin’ hours.  Responsible adults need to spend part of every day doing something besides work and sleep: cooking, cleaning, paying bills, going on errands.

And, yes, caring for children and spending time with the wife.  I suspect it was another lie meant to make me feel like a nag.

****

Phil picked up the game “Crack the Case” for the InterVarsity group, who loved playing board games at parties.  One person, the gamemaster, knows the solution to a mystery case and the other asks yes or no questions.  It sounded like fun, and you can see it has high marks.

But when Phil and I played it, he kept snapping at me.

If he was the gamemaster, he treated me like a stupid idiot when I didn’t pick up on some clue he gave.

Or, if I was the gamemaster, he yelled at me for not answering him “properly” with a yes when I thought it deserved a no.  He thought I couldn’t decide for myself what I could say and what I couldn’t without breaking the rules.

Another abusive tactic: trying to make your spouse feel like she’s too stupid to function without you.  And I have never wanted to play this game since, because it reminds me of him treating me like an idiot.

****

One night, he told me he’d been doing a “points” thing while driving to work.  He would think of things for me and things against me.

One thing against me was that I wasn’t Catholic.  That insulted me.  It shouldn’t be a point against to be Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox; they’re all Christian.

As Sharon later told me, once you’re engaged, it’s time to stop the dating “point system.”  It’s doubly time when you’re married.

My parents complained about him a lot at dinner these days.  Just various things, like he shouldn’t make so much noise at night, or he should do such-and-such.

I tried to quiet him at night, especially when we were in the kitchen, but he still often talked loud.  Sometimes I tried to defend him; sometimes I could think of nothing to say.

****

Sometimes we played D&D in the family room, sometimes in my room.  D&D was so much fun that I wanted to play it most nights.

I liked playing Phoena, though she had to fight nasty creatures a lot, and I wished sometimes that Phil would concentrate more on the little romances he put into adventures than on battles.

Fury, a peaceful druid, did not have the skills to adventure in dangerous territory on her own, yet Phil insisted on having her gain some skill levels before she met Phoena.

(Why didn’t he just let me roll her at a higher level, instead of starting her out at first?  That’s how now-hubby Cugan would have done it, and it makes more sense.)

Phil stuck her in a dungeon, and with the limitations of NVLD, I didn’t know what to do to get her out of it.

Phil gave me no help understanding how to play a druid.  Instead he got mad at me and yelled at me like I was stupid, then said, “She gets depressed and dies.”

I got upset and he took it back, but we no longer played her.  (I played her later in one of Cugan’s games.)

(Poor Phoena: Every game she’s in, dies.  First this game ended when Phil and I divorced.  Then I tried her again in a game with one of Cugan’s friends, but that game ended after one time.  Then I finally pulled her back out again to play in my friend Richard‘s game, only to be betrayed by him and discover that he was not really my friend, so that game ended as well.)

Phil spent all his free time just sitting and playing computer games.  It was boring to sit there and watch him, so I’d usually read, since I wanted to be with him.

Dad had the game Lemmings, and it was fun to watch Phil play it.

I tried to play it once, and asked Phil to help me learn it because he said he was great at figuring out the puzzles in each level.

I just asked him to help me learn how to play, but he told me how to solve everything, and got mad if I didn’t figure out the levels right away.  That wasn’t what I asked him to do!

One level was especially perplexing: This big column-thing was in the way of the Lemmings, and you could only bash it in the direction opposite the one in which the Lemmings were going.

Phil told me to time some bombers perfectly and get a bunch of Lemmings digging at perfectly placed intervals along the top of the column-thing, to obliterate it from the top down.

It was impossible to place them so well that there would be no leftover slivers to block the Lemmings, but he insisted I do it this way, and became furious with me for not doing it right.

On December 23, I played that level on my own, and discovered how much better and easier the game was for me without Phil standing over me and telling me how to think.

I came to the level with the big column-thing.  Phil had insisted I solve this the hard way, the nearly-impossible way–

–when all I needed to do was send a couple of crawling Lemmings over the column, make one of them a blocker so the other one would turn back around and become a basher, then the basher would bash through the column and make a nice tunnel for all the other Lemmings to go through.

Blow up the blocker, and all the other Lemmings will march through and make it safely home.

He tried so hard to make me feel like an idiot, yet once I got out of his influence, my true smarts became clear.

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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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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Phil tries to control me through refusing everything I want–even proper hygiene–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–July 1994, Part 3

Phil and I got into a routine of sleeping in Sunday morning, having Sunday lunch at home (sometimes warmed up if we slept too late), going to the evening service, then going to get dinner for ourselves from a fast food place, because Mom never made dinner Sunday evening.

In my family, our traditional Sunday dinner was at lunchtime, then we’d have ice cream (sometimes cake or brownies a la mode, too) in the mid- to late-afternoon, and popcorn after the evening service (or around 7:00, if we didn’t go to the evening service).

But this didn’t satisfy me anymore and often made me feel a little sick, so I welcomed going to get dinner with Phil.

We used to go to the morning service, and people complimented Phil’s bass singing, but we decided we’d rather sleep and go to the evening service.

But one evening, the people at the church service divided up into little classes in the Sunday School classrooms.  I’m not sure why; it was not normally done, but the pastor wanted to do something different that night.

I was excited about it and wanted to go to one, but Phil refused to go with me.  I said I didn’t want to go alone.  He said he didn’t want to go, maybe for the same reasons he didn’t want to go to Sunday School–avoiding indoctrination or confrontation?

(Like that would’ve happened!  We as a church were very laid-back, and wouldn’t do this sort of thing.)

He said we should either leave, or he’d wait in the van for me as I went to a class.  I said people would wonder why he wasn’t with me.  He didn’t care.

I got frustrated, and really wanted to go to a class, but I refused to let him be an object of my embarrassment by sitting outside in the van.  I said we might as well leave.

****

I got into practice of being a good little housewife: Just as I kept up with cleaning my dorm room and laundry, I cleaned our upstairs rooms: dusting and vacuuming our two bedrooms, cleaning the half-bath each week, doing laundry for both of us, folding his clothes and hanging up his shirts and jeans and putting them all away, then putting one or two fabric sheets in his underwear drawer to keep the underwear nice and fresh.  (My mom taught me this trick.)

But I kept finding the fabric sheets in the wastebasket.  It was kind of insulting, almost like he thought I was leaving them there accidentally or something, or like he didn’t care about my little gesture.  I put them there every time and set them nice and neatly over his underwear. It seemed hard to mistake that for an accident.

I went to a lot of trouble to clean his underwear, learning how to bleach and trying to figure out how to remove the stubborn stains guys leave behind.  I tried and tried and tried, but could not get them out.

I also washed and bleached the white sheets on my bed, which we both used, but the grease from his arms after working at the factory did not come out of the sheets.

(Later that year, I’d put the stained parts at the foot of the bed, so I couldn’t see them and remember sex with him.  In 1997, I decided to just get rid of them, since there was no way I was using them again.  Now I just wanted to burn them.)

He acted like I was a nag for asking him to clean up with the Lava soap I put in the upstairs bathroom for that purpose.  But he just didn’t seem to realize what he was doing to the sheets by not washing up every night.

He couldn’t take a shower at night because the full bath was in my parents’ bedroom, so that’s why I brought in the Lava soap.  But he didn’t get up early enough to take a shower the next morning, when my parents were gone–and for goodness’ sake, he had to clean up sometime!

Trying to wash the T-shirts and jeans he wore to work was almost impossible.  They got clean, but except for one red T-shirt that resisted the grease stains, they were badly stained and fit for nothing else but such work.

I kept trying and trying to get the stains out, but it just didn’t work.  Phil wore the same pair of jeans to work each day so the other ones wouldn’t get ruined.

Phil never bathed much, even now that he was working in a factory, and even when he showered, he didn’t always use soap.

He didn’t like showering because of some near-drowning incident when he was a child; he said he’d rather just use shampoo in the shower, and soap up while taking a bath, since the water wasn’t pouring down all over him.

Yet I don’t think he took a bath more than once or twice the whole time I was with him.  If he did, I didn’t know about it.

He also didn’t brush his teeth.  I begged him to shower and brush his teeth, but he said, “This way you won’t have to worry about any other women coming on to me!”  But hey–what about being more attractive to me?  When he did shower, I begged him to use soap.

Once, he told me he washed his hands but didn’t use soap because he didn’t see any.  I said there was a softsoap bottle sitting right there on the sink!  (Duh!)  He said he doesn’t use soap if he can’t tell it is soap.

But, come on, that softsoap stuff had been on the market and advertised ever since we were little kids, and most public bathrooms used softsoap, so he should have known by now what it was.  And it probably said “soap” or “softsoap” right on the bottle!

****

One early afternoon, Phil infuriated me.  I did nothing wrong, and wished he would apologize for treating me so badly.

We went over to the nearest branch of the library to get a book, you see; I used to walk there all the time in high school.  I thought it would only take a moment because I knew exactly what I was looking for: a particular Gothic novel for my studies.  This was all for my senior thesis, Gothic novels and how they’ve changed over time.

Instead I found a collection of Gothic stories.  While I looked that over, and over what other Gothic books they had there, I lost track of time.  But Phil apparently did, too, or else he knew what time it was and didn’t tell me.

Anyway, it got late, and he had to go to work.  I thought it was still early, because I was so engrossed that time went quickly.  I thought it took fifteen minutes at the very most, and I don’t know what took up so much time.  He didn’t tell me until it was already late that we needed to get going.

Then on the way back, instead of walking along holding hands cheerfully and lovingly, like we did on the way there, he started walking and running fast.

He got mad at me because I couldn’t keep up with him, though I was physically unable to go faster.  I told him I couldn’t walk or run so fast.  He yelled at me and then, when we got back, he left in a huff.

I have always had trouble keeping up with others who walk or run fast, especially guys.  In a walking test in gym class in maybe sixth grade, I finished the track long after everyone else in the class was done.  I have long legs, but still can’t keep up.  For years, I’ve considered this an NVLD-related thing.  So Phil yelled at me for something I can’t help, something related to my nonverbal learning disability.

Dad was home so I tried to hide my tears, but I sniffled while doing the dishes.  Dad may have noticed, but I don’t remember for sure.  (I know my parents did notice some days that I was unhappy.)  I was still pretty ticked at Phil because he should’ve been more understanding at my lack of athletic ability.

Phil did say when he got home from work that maybe he shouldn’t have gotten so mad at me, and he did apologize.

But he had complained about me at the factory during a break.  So not only was he trying to break me with psychological warfare, but he smeared me to his co-workers as well.

****
Jake’s wedding was on July 30 at Pam’s mother’s house.  We of Jake’s family, even Phil, were included in the informal pictures.  (A few months later, Mom didn’t like to see him in the pictures.)

I loved the punch, which had ice cream in it.  And no, it had no alcohol.  Why should punch be spiked?  It’s delicious the way it is.  And whatever happened to punch at parties and weddings?

Anyway, the reception was at a restaurant, probably Old Country Buffet.  My youngest brother, Mom, Dad, Grandma McCanmore, Phil and I all sat together at the same table.

My youngest brother liked to make snide comments about me all the time.  He said I was stubborn and wouldn’t do anything I didn’t want to.

Phil said proudly, “She does whatever I ask her to.”

Grandma said to me, “Don’t let him think that!”

I did jokingly call him “master” sometimes, like the girl in Pamela, or like a genie with  bowed head and hands pressed together, because I didn’t mind giving over the decision making to someone else.  However, this was a grave mistake because he took it to heart, liked it way too much, took it way too seriously.

The 700 Club taught a better form of submission, a wife willingly submitting and a husband willingly loving and protecting (mutual submission), rather than a subservient wife forced to obey her husband.

Phil wanted obedience; I wanted mutual submission.

It wasn’t until later–when I researched for American Lit and changed my senior thesis to Victorian women who tried to break free from male domination, and probably with the sting of bitter memories–that I began to hate the very idea of one head of the household.

But I always resisted being controlled and obedient, as if I were a child and Phil my father.

But if Phil wanted something I didn’t want or could not give, such as anal sex, he began demanding it, scolding me and saying, “You always get your way!” or “Fine, have your way, you always do.”

This from the guy who kept refusing to do things I asked for and treated me like a nag for wanting them, such as: taking me to look for PH paper for his required natural family planning, doing little things once in a while that I asked for because they were sweet and reminded me of our early days together, or going to a park on the weekend instead of just sitting around the house doing nothing except watch him play computer games.

This also contradicted his assertion at my brother’s wedding that I did whatever he wanted me to. 

Years later, I also heard from a friend that he held me up to his new wife as some kind of saint, obedient and perfect, so that she idolized me and tried to be like me.  It was bizarre.

But back to July 1994.  If I stuck up for myself during one of his tirades, he screamed, “You always have to be right!”

Never mind that he kept demanding I give up something important to me (such as Sunday School), do something disgusting or demeaning or perverted or painful, allow him to get his way or win the argument when he was being unreasonable or cruel or ridiculing me, or read his mind.

As I described above, he even threatened to withhold natural marital relations if I refused to agree to the perverted and excruciatingly painful (no lube) thing he wanted to do.

I knew that Phil used pornography before we started dating.  He told me he got rid of the Hustler magazines in his room.  But studies have shown that use of porn can distort a young man’s expectations of his wife/girlfriend.

I believe this is exactly what happened with Phil, that he expected me to act like a porn star.  (Also see here.)  I knew he watched a certain porn movie all the time, and Hustler is hardcore, not like Playboy.

Sure it’s difficult to put these details on the Web, but stories of abuse need to be told, for the sake of those who have been and are being abused.  Maybe some woman (or man) will recognize herself (himself) in these pages and get the help she (he) needs.

 

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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The Domestic Abuse Worsens in the Summer of Hell–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–July 1994, Part 1

As usual for the past few summers, we had a family reunion in Three Rivers, MI.  It may have been sometime around the fourth of July, but that’s only a guess.  For the first time, I had a boyfriend and/or fiancé to bring.

He annoyed people, though, like Mom and my brother Jake.  He begged for a Mountain Dew and even offered to pay for one, which embarrassed Mom.

****

I was glad I waited for marriage before having intercourse.  From what I could tell from my limited experience, it was much better to wait, as I did.

Marital sex was wonderful and freeing: I could give my body over to Phil in trust and freedom, knowing my body would belong to him for as long as we both should live.

I was sure it pleased God, too, that we waited, and I also praised Him that we waited.  I felt He blessed our union and the love we made.

****

One night on Picket Fences, the Judge presided over a child molestation case.  The sheriff’s daughter thought her best friend was having a baby by her own father, and that she didn’t even realize how wrong this was.

But to prevent prosecution, the “father” finally had to admit they were Mormons, and this girl was not his daughter, but the second of his two wives.  The first wife, whom the people of Rome, Wisconsin had thought was the girl’s mother, was about his own age.

(Rome was supposed to be a fictional town, but I found two Romes on the Wisconsin map.)

This caused a problem, of course, because bigamy is outlawed in this country.  But the Judge said,

“Common-law marriages exist all over.  There’s nothing to stop them from having a common-law marriage.  They must dissolve one of the marriages on the books, but they can still consider it common-law, and live as they have been living.”

And common-law marriages, of course, are not legally recognized in Wisconsin, so he wouldn’t legally be a bigamist.

It seemed Providential that this was on Picket Fences at just this time.  I also read in the newspaper about someone in California who lived with a woman he considered his wife, though she wasn’t legally, and the paper called her his “girlfriend.”  But as far as he was concerned, she was his “wife.”

These are two examples that I believed showed my marriage to Phil was truly legitimate, even if the local law didn’t recognize it, so we were truly married before God.

It seemed like God was trying to show us, through two examples so close together that summer, that it was OK.  They showed these marriages were common and real, not just our own idea.

The porcelain bird, my “engagement ring,” sat on my dresser all summer next to a picture of Phil; both got dusted regularly and lovingly.

****

I wrote these things in a letter to a pen pal on 7/3/94:

Thanks for the two cards!  They were cute.  And the bunnies were really appropriate, considering I have a stuffed rabbit that we call our ‘son.’

He wanted to name our first son Benjamin, or Benny.  We gave this name to the rabbit, which he gave me in the spring.

I saw one of the bunnies sold in the Campus Shop, and thought how nice it would be to have one.  They were cute and cuddly and wore T-shirts that said, “Cuddle up with someone from Roanoke.”

I didn’t say a word about it, but Phil got me one.  Phil now has two sons; he named one Benny.  More from the letter:

Interesting all the attention the World Cup is getting.  In the comic strip ‘Cathy,’ Cathy’s new boyfriend has been watching it, but I don’t think they really understand what’s going on.  My brother has been talking about it, but I don’t think my dad has been watching.

The TV Guide had articles on it, wondering if soccer could ever catch on with Americans.  Phil, of course, doesn’t watch because he’s not into sports.  I don’t know if it will catch on, but one thing’s for sure: American football will probably remain the sport of choice in this country….

We haven’t set the date, but probably next summer.  My parents plan to pay, it being the tradition even though nowadays the groom’s family might help or the couple might pay for it themselves.  My parents intend to use our local church for the ceremony, which was what I’d hoped to do.

So you see, my not converting to Catholicism would not be an issue.

My parents apparently like the engagement.  It means two of their children married off–my older brother is getting married in a few days–and only one [left]…to find somebody.

P.S.: Phil’s not selling cable anymore.  His pay was hardly enough for the work he did or to cover the gas he used.  Now he’s working in a factory.  Hopefully this one will work out.

The factory was in Mishawaka, but Phil thought the people there sounded Southern!  I knew some people from Mishawaka who did have an accent different from the rest of us.

Or it may have been a Michigan accent, which it did sound much like; we’re so close to the border that we share the county, and the whole area is called Michiana.

Maybe Mishawaka people do talk differently than South Bend people, which would be weird because we’re literally across the street from each other, and South Benders don’t have an accent.  (We used to be one city, but Mishawaka wanted to be by itself.)

Phil noticed his co-workers, my dad and, I believe, Hoosiers in general, said “Wes-consin” instead of “Wisconsin.”  It always used to sound like “Wisconsin” to me, but after he and/or Peter mentioned it, even I thought Dad said “Wes-consin.”

****

Phil and I, since I wanted to match his schedule, got into a routine of sleeping in Sunday morning, having Sunday lunch at home (sometimes warmed up if we slept too late), going to the evening service, then getting our own fast food dinner, because Mom never made dinner on Sunday evening.

Our traditional Sunday dinner was at lunchtime, then we’d have ice cream (sometimes cake or brownies a la mode, too) in the mid- to late-afternoon, and popcorn after the evening service.  But this no longer satisfied me and often made me a little sick.

We used to go to the morning service, and people complimented Phil’s deep singing voice.  But when Phil began working second shift and we took on later hours, we decided we’d rather sleep and go to the evening service.

****

On July 3, I wrote to Pearl,

Oh, by the way, did you have any idea what Dave thinks of me?  Phil told me some things Dave said to him that really upset me, especially since they’re untrue–though Dave believes them–and one is based on faulty information that he took as the truth.

Phil, of course, didn’t listen to them, which I suppose is what really matters, but after all, Dave will be my brother-in-law.  (Isn’t that an odd thought?) I thought we got along well enough, but I was told that Dave called me a name.

Then I had to see him in Botany.  He started talking to me about something, and I couldn’t forget what Phil had told me, and wanted to get away.  At least the semester was about over then.

I’ve gotta wonder if his opinions of me are based on things Peter might’ve told him while we were still at odds.  If so, that might explain why Dave would tell Phil we don’t get along at a time when I’d just met him for maybe the first time and thought we did get along.

****

But all did not stay rosy.  The factory seemed to change Phil’s personality.  Even his language began to change, with more cuss words than before.

As the summer wore on, I felt like Phil always had to be right, yet he accused me of this.  He kept taking my different views as attacks, turning them into arguments when they were not meant to be.

He said once that it’s a guy thing–that they don’t like to be wrong.  Basically, that they get mad or act hurt because it hurts their pride.

I felt forced to defend my position because he cut it down so much and refused to let me have a legitimate point.  It frustrated me to no end when he acted like this then pinned all the blame on me.

It seemed I wasn’t allowed to disagree with Phil about things, or have a good point or idea, or a legitimate feeling or reason.  It didn’t seem fair, him accusing me of what he did himself.

Then he shut down emotionally or left the room.  (Some people leave the room to cool down.  But to me it felt like a manipulation tactic, not allowing me to have my say: also known as withholding, the silent treatment, or stonewalling.)

As an example, once, when we were about to make love (if you can call it that), Phil wanted my backside.  I didn’t want to do it that way because it was not just disgusting, but also excruciatingly painful.  Then afterwards, the pain continued during bowel movements.  THIS GUY NEVER HEARD OF LUBE.

He got mad and yelled, “It’s always your way!  You’re right.  You’re always right!”  Then he stormed out of my room.

But as his next girlfriend Persephone would say, it is my body.  I shouldn’t have to do something I’m not comfortable with.

I hated having to beg Phil to take showers–and use soap.  I shouldn’t have had to.  One day, he said he would use both soap and shampoo.  At one point, I turned on the water upstairs for a second or two to wash or rinse my hands, probably after going to the bathroom (without flushing), then I turned it back off again.

A few minutes later, Phil came upstairs, complaining.  He said that he didn’t use soap after all because the water got cold.  He waited and waited for it to warm up again, but it never did, so he stopped his shower.  I said I did turn on the water for a few seconds, but I turned it off again.

He yelled at me for having sabotaged my own desire for him to use soap in his shower.  I said I had to wash my hands.  I said it was only a second, and hardly long enough to cause a problem.

(I knew how the water worked in that house, since, after all, I’d lived there for twenty-one years.  Running the water or using a dishwasher or clothes washer may make someone’s shower cold or hot, but only for as long as you have the water on–not after you turn it off.)

He said it was cold for a long time–like several minutes.  If it was, then it sure wasn’t my fault, but he just wouldn’t listen to me.  (Maybe Dad was running some water downstairs.  Or maybe the hot water ran out.  Or maybe he was just plain exaggerating or impatient and couldn’t wait two frickin’ seconds.)

This wasn’t a good enough reason to stop showering, because it happened to me all the time, and I didn’t come out and yell at people for ruining my shower.  I just waited it out and then finished up when the water warmed up.  Or I shut off the water while soaping up, and turned it back on again to rinse off.

He was so unreasonable.  He even scolded me for using too much shampoo, when he barely used any, and I had waist-length hair!

 

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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Phil’s Mr. Hyde comes out: controlling, manipulative, verbally and emotionally abusive–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–June 1994, Part 6

There were two distinct parts to the day: One part was my family and me, and not Phil.  The other part was Phil and me alone, because of his second-shift work schedule.  I kept going back and forth between them.  During the day, if things went wrong or were boring, I longed to be with Phil alone.

As the summer wore on, at times I preferred to be either alone or with my family, not with him.  He was just too hard to deal with after a while, and it was harder and harder to have any peace with him around.

I loved sitting in my chair, alone with All in the Family and Undine in my room upstairs, though I’d wait and often look forward to Phil coming home at 11:30.

By that time, I had spent hours translating a page of Undine.  I also spent hours writing the latest draft of Jerisland (a major rewrite, and my desert island novel which I’d worked on since high school) for my Senior Writing Project, and reading Gothic novels for my Senior Honors Project.

(The topic: how Gothic novels have changed from pre-Gothics, basically Clarissa from 1748, and Castle of Otranto, the first and supposedly a bad Gothic novel, to modern ones, such as Anne Rice’s vampire books.)

****

Some traits which came to light about Phil over that summer, though infatuation blinded me to them: stubborn, manipulative, controlling, emotionally abusive, used his acting talent to play tricks on me, picked fights.

He yelled at me and tore me down for not wanting to do things his way, then accused me of always having to get my way.

But we had made solemn promises before God to each other which I was determined to keep, so rather than telling him to go back to Wisconsin, I tried to work things out instead.

I found this book Mom had–something from the seventies about being a good Christian wife who pleases her husband so much he doesn’t want affairs or to leave.  It was written by a woman who discovered for herself what works.

It said not to nag about things like taking out the garbage, because the guy isn’t a child who won’t do these things without reminding.

But though I tried to hold to this, as the summer went on, it got harder and harder, because Phil didn’t do these things whether you nagged him or not.  I mean important, basic things which adult men should know to do on their own, without anybody’s reminder, such as:

He wouldn’t brush his teeth, wouldn’t shower.

When he worked at the factory, he set his clock for 1pm but slept until 2 or so.  I begged him to get up so he could have time to shower and eat a proper breakfast, but he yelled at me, later accused me of lowering his self esteem by “telling him when to get up” (what a load of BS) just for trying to get him up on time, rolled over, and deliberately slept so late that he could only throw on his work clothes and scarf down a Little Debbie snack.

Which meant he rarely showered.

When he came home, he didn’t wash off the soot.  Sure the full bathroom was in my parents’ bedroom, but he could at least wash his hands and arms.  The soot permanently stained the sheets, so I eventually had to throw them away.  I asked him to please clean up when he came home; he did it, but complained about it.

He neglected his worn-out brakes, until I finally had to beg him and drag him out of bed–on the last possible day before he drove me back to school–to get them fixed so we wouldn’t get killed on the long drive through Chicago and Milwaukee.

Though I asked him for reasonable things, he treated me like a nag.

(By the way, now-hubby Cugan constantly praises me to me, his father and others for not being a nag.  He says that even if I do nag occasionally, I do it nicely.  Of course, hubby is also a grown adult who knows to shower and brush his teeth daily, and get up on time to do all these things before work.  Nobody needs to remind him, which was such a relief that it was a big part of me falling for him!)

On November 13, 1998, a young woman on Montel told her ex she hated him because he physically abused her and cheated on her.  She said something chillingly familiar: that she got called many names–slut, whore, f-word, b-word, “and that was just to wake you up every day so you could go to work!”

Phil rarely used profanity, but his yelling and put-downs were just as bad when I woke him up for work.  It was another element of verbal abuse and control.

I wanted us to go to Sunday School together.  He refused–no room for discussion–because he feared they’d try to “convert” him from Catholicism.  I just wanted to go to Sunday School with my husband, and highly doubted they would try to “convert” him.  Sunday School was usually a time for studying issues and socializing.

Since I went to church with him now rather than with my parents, this meant, no Sunday School.  And I loved Sunday School.

(This was the last chance I had to go to Sunday School, because other churches I later went to when I moved to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, did not have adult Sunday School.  This was always strange to me, to have only the Sunday morning service, and no adult Sunday School, no evening service, and no Wednesday service.  Yet whatever denomination I went to in Fond du Lac, none of them had these things!  If they had more than one service, it was just a copy of the Sunday morning service, maybe changing the music to fit “contemporary” or “traditional.”)

One Sunday evening, the congregation (usually smaller for evening services) divided up into little classes in the Sunday School classrooms (I forget why–we had never done this before).

I was excited about it and wanted to go to one, but Phil refused to go with me.  I didn’t want to go alone.  He said he didn’t want to go, maybe for the same reasons he didn’t want to go to Sunday School–avoiding indoctrination or confrontation?  So paranoid!  If Catholic adults did Sunday School, I would have gone with him to his!

He said we should either leave, or he’d wait in the van for me as I went to a class.  I said people would wonder why he wasn’t with me.  He didn’t care.

I got frustrated, and really wanted to go to a class, but I refused to let him make a scene and embarrass me by sitting outside in the van, and said we might as well leave.

This was spiritual abuse, using verbal abuse and the threat of embarrassment to keep me from practicing my religion.  (Also see here, here, here and here.)

Christians believe that mixed skinny dipping is immoral, because you’re not supposed to disrobe in front of the opposite sex unless you’re married.  Yet Phil, the one who was once going to be a priest, told me that he skinny-dipped in mixed company in the campus lake once.

I think it was in the summer after his senior year of high school, which would make it the summer after my freshman year of college, when I was getting over Peter.  (He wasn’t even a student here, and neither were the people with him.)

I was not happy about this.  The thought of him skinny dipping with female classmates–seeing their naked bodies–them seeing his naked body–it horrified me, but he didn’t understand why.  He said they didn’t touch each other, didn’t do anything.

But that made no difference: It was still sinful, and he should’ve known that.  The thought of my own husband, with whom I was one flesh, thinking it was okay to skinny-dip in mixed company–I began to lose respect for him as a man and as a husband.  I thought he had more morals than that.

I told him a Roanoke student died in that lake one year.  I don’t know when it was, but it was during a picnic the college held for the students and faculty.  Counselor Dude rode in a boat, while this boy swam.

The currents took him under, and he drowned.  C.D. was distraught; this had been his favorite student.  Soon after this, the “No Lifeguard on Duty–Swim at Your Own Risk” sign was put up at the lake.  I think it was long before I came to Roanoke.  Phil said, “And I was skinny-dipping in that lake!”

He also said once that porn was not wrong/sinful.  Christians believe porn is also sinful for the same reason–disrobing in mixed company–and because it encourages lust, not love and respect for your sister in Christ or fellow human being made in God’s image.

The kind of man I had always expected to marry, wouldn’t just call himself a Christian, but actually live it, following Christian moral standards.

In September, he complained about us going to get lunch or dinner “just because you’re hungry.”  If I recall correctly, we got meals at a normal time or late.  If I don’t eat in a timely manner, I get migraines, and feel lightheaded and nauseated.  So he even wanted to control when I ate, no matter how hungry or sick I felt?

Once, when I pulled out a heating pad for menstrual cramps or a sore muscle, Phil said, “I hope you’re not going to end up like my mom, always sitting on a heating pad.”

So even using a heating pad for cramps is wrong somehow, and I have to be guilted into not doing it?  So I’m supposed to be in pain because you don’t want me using a heating pad?

By the way, his mom had health problems which caused her pain in that area, making his remarks not just knee-jerk (emphasis on the “jerk”) for me using a heating pad one night for cramps, but extremely insensitive to his mother.  Even if she didn’t have constant pain, if she wants to sit on a heating pad all the time, so what?

I eventually wondered why I kept ending up with the wrong kinds of guys, when I specifically looked for the right kinds.  I’d only date Christians, whom I expected to be godly men, but even the Christians turned away from the faith and/or mistreated me in some way.  I looked for nice, sweet, romantic guys; I ended up with guys who seemed that way at first, but turned mean.

I didn’t grow up in an abusive home, so why did I keep dating mean guys?  I thought I couldn’t trust my own judgment, that if I found another guy I wanted to get serious about, I’d have to ask my friends what they thought of him first:

Because of my nonverbal learning disorder, I was an easy target for these guys, and easily fooled with my trusting nature.  So they acted like what I wanted until I fell for them, then showed their true colors as time wore on.

My friends and family disliked the guys early on, but said nothing.  After the breakup, they gave their opinions, and I realized they were right, that I’d been blind.

 

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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Phil’s fake dreams lead to a terrible fight (Gaslighting, Bits of Abuse Here and There)–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–June 1994, Part 3

A letter from Pearl on the 13th spoke of an infection, and that she could have died from it.   (She has rheumatoid arthritis and kept having problems throughout college.)  But a hurting hip led her to go to her doctor, so that’s how he discovered it, and in time.

She had to deal with a tube in her neck and weeks of intravenous antibiotics, then oral antibiotics, and this meant no knee surgery that summer–so she’d still need crutches.  But at least she was alive!  (Still is, in fact.  🙂  )

Another letter I wrote to somebody said she was at Roanoke a bit during the summer, finishing up exams; this must have been why.  She was also supposed to do her writing and honors projects senior year, and wanted to work on them, just as I was.

****

Phil often acted out his dreams while sleeping, and spoke coherently, as I’ve described before.  One night while he worked at the Kirby job, he told me he wanted a little “wedded bliss” before he went to sleep.  So after he went to bed, I went over and nudged him to give him what he wanted.

I don’t want to recount this incident in full detail because it is still too disturbing; I don’t have to relive everything.  But he kept his eyes closed the whole time, which always told me he was asleep and acting out his dreams.

I kept saying I didn’t want his subconscious, but his real, awake self, yet he kept his eyes closed all the while, which showed me he was still dreaming.  His sleeping self got mean and childish, even sleepwalked.

I kept expecting him to wake up and start acting kind, except that his subconscious was forcing him to stay under, refusing to let the real, kind, awake Phil take over again.

I was frightened by and angry at his subconscious, telling him to go away so the real Phil could come back.

Then finally he opened his eyes.  In relief I said, “Oh, now you’re awake.  I thought you never would wake up!”  His rational self was back, not that jerk of a subconscious!

But then he said, “I was awake.”

Huh?

“I was awake the whole time.”

I was confused, upset.  How could he have been awake and behaved in such a fashion?  How could he be awake and keep his eyes closed the entire time, even while walking?

But he said he wanted me to come to him!

Why didn’t he open his eyes and show me he was awake?  He was always talking in his sleep and acting out his dreams–How was I to know any different?

I felt cruelly tricked, set up by this evil charade.  All he had to do was open his eyes as soon as I nudged him, to show me he was awake!

I had directly called him Phil’s subconscious repeatedly, and repeatedly said I wanted the real, conscious Phil back.

He knew very well that keeping his eyes closed had always been a signal to me that he was talking in his sleep and acting out his dreams.

He knew very well that he had trained me to disregard anything he said while asleep, as being his subconscious and not the real him.

He knew very well that opening his eyes signaled to me that the dream was over and he was awake.

Then there’s all he said and did and yet kept his eyes closed the entire time (even going downstairs and making a huge amount of racket, so I feared he’d wake my parents).

So I do still firmly believe he kept his eyes closed on purpose to keep me thinking he was asleep, talking in his sleep, walking in his sleep, and his subconscious was doing it all, an episode of crazy-making me with something he knew quite well would fool me.

Especially since, a couple of months later, he finally admitted that he was awake every single time he acted out his dreams and talked in his sleep, that it was all an act!

As I’ve described in earlier chapters, he started doing this in February, and kept doing this until August.  (I describe these “dreams” all through these chapters.)

So he had me firmly convinced these were dreams, and in June, I was still under this gaslighting illusion, because he had not yet admitted the truth.

So to not open his eyes and show me he was truly awake, was diabolical, deliberately setting me up to act crazy and give him something to constantly remind me of–ie, gaslighting me.  This is a common tactic of abusers and narcissists, so they can deflect attention off what they’re doing to you, and call you the abuser.

I didn’t know all that, but I did want to tell him to go back to Wisconsin, that I was done with him.

After much anger, we finally got to talking and decided it was a misunderstanding, with him seeing how he contributed.  He saw he’d been a jerk about the whole thing, and that it wasn’t my fault; I believe he even apologized.

But for days or weeks after, he kept bringing up that night, as if he thought it was all my fault.  I never would have said or done what I did if I knew he was awake and I was dealing with his real self, not the subconscious; I would have known he was awake if he never pretended to talk/act things out in his sleep.  The narcissist had me fully in his talons.

As for your partner’s assertion, yes – you may have sent angry emails or yelled or slammed doors or called names. So your abuser claims YOU were abusing him/her.

But it’s more likely you were REACTING to being abused by your partner. What can make it even more difficult for you to see and understand at this point is that some of their abuse may be subtle and covert rather than obvious and overt.

This causes further difficulty for you in identifying the abuse – and makes it easier for your abuser to convince you that it’s all your fault, or the problem is really with YOU – that you’re “crazy”, or “imagining things”.

They’ll abuse you, and when you react to that abuse, they accuse YOU of abusing THEM and they play the victim role. They don’t call it “crazymaking” for nothing! —Let’s Talk About Reactive Abuse

 

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse used by narcissists in order to instill in their victims an extreme sense of anxiety and confusion to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment.

The techniques used in “Gaslighting” by the narcissist are similar to those used in brainwashing, interrogation, and torture that have been used in psychological warfare by intelligence operatives, law enforcement and other forces for decades.

The intention is to, in a systematic way, target the victim’s mental equilibrium, self confidence, and self esteem so that they are no longer able to function in an independent way.

Gaslighting involves the abuser to frequently and systematically withhold factual information from the victim, and replace it with false information.

Because of its subtlety, this cunning Machiavellian behavior is a deeply insidious set of manipulations that is difficult for anybody to work out, and with time it finally undermines the mental stability of the victim. That is why it is such a dangerous form of abuse.

The emotional damage of Gaslighting is huge on the narcissistic victim. When they are exposed to it for long enough, they begin to lose their sense of their own self.

Unable to trust their own judgments, they start to question the reality of everything in their life. They begin to find themselves second-guessing themselves, and this makes them become very insecure around their decision making, even around the smallest of choices.

The victim becomes depressed and withdrawn, they become totally dependent on the abuser for their sense of reality. In effect the gaslighting turns the victim’s reality on its head. —What is gaslighting? by Christine

People talking and even walking in their sleep, or acting out dreams, is a real phenomenon.  I even witnessed it in my pets, and would influence my dog’s dreams or my cat’s dreams by petting, barking, or whatever.  Using real phenomena is the best way to fool someone.

And I was already susceptible because my ex Peter talked in his sleep and acted out his dreams, and had convinced me of various telepathic abilities.  He said we had a psychic link, and that because of his ninja training, he went on time-traveling dream trips, was telepathic, could see things happening far away, and hoped to learn telekinesis.  (See here and here, where all these things are described.)

Because I believed Peter, I also believed Phil, making me perfect to gaslight with these fake “dreams.”  Also, my NVLD made me more susceptible to this, because it’s much harder for people with NVLD to notice when someone is lying.

 

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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Reblog: Explaining how to tell true from fake victims

For outsiders, it can be hard to tell which is the narcissist and which the victim:

I bet my poor priest had this problem when Richard and Tracy went up to him a year and a half ago, before I had a chance to, and told him who knows what lies.

I heard Tracy’s indignant whispers, and thought I caught “self-righteous” as well.  I know they also persuaded some girl I didn’t know, “Chia,” that I was somehow falsely accusing them and being awful to them.

I also remember the smear campaign they conducted against Richard’s friend Todd, whose only crime was to try to help Tracy, and who then got mad at her when she continuously fought him and accused him for hours over it.

They got people–even me–thinking Todd was crazy.  But when I examined closely what really happened, I discovered that Tracy was lying to everyone.

I also remember two of my exes smearing me as well, telling their friends and anyone who would listen, lies about me.

But I found a blog post which sums up quite well in a series of bullet points, how to tell a true from a fake victim.  For example:

Let’s examine the traits of a well-trained pathological liar, a narcissist; with a history of duping others and manipulating to avoid responsibility vs a credible, honest, albeit “emotional” target of the narcissist.

….TRUE VICTIMS experience the grieving process. Shock. Denial. Anger. moving all the way through [to] acceptance.

Whereas a FALSE VICTIM will appear to get over the emotions of the experience rather quickly. They don’t appear to dwell, (ruminate / obsess) over the “abusive” experiences.

….Narcissists as FALSE VICTIMS don’t change a damn thing about their behavior. They don’t seek help. They don’t look over their shoulders. (Unless they’re paranoid about karma catching up with them) They don’t have trouble sleeping at night or difficulty breathing at times. They aren’t afraid of you in the ways they’ve claimed to be afraid.

They don’t hang out in support groups. They don’t share their stories with other survivors. They don’t endure the traumatic symptoms of PTSD.

TRUE VICTIMS can’t survive than by any other way than REACHING OUT for support. Seeking validation, seeking therapy, GOD, or other “SAVING” modalities is a revelation of our TRUE, inner state.

We’re shocked, scared and hurt. We give back and share our stories with others. We try to warn the next victim out of fear that the narcissist will victimize others.

We have the ability and show true empathy for other survivors because we KNOW what the abuse from a narcissist feels like. We KNOW how confusing it is. We don’t take the experience lightly, nor the feelings of those who’ve suffered this lightly.

TRUE VICTIMS become very involved in their own therapy. They are motivated by hurt, anger, fear and determination to never be made a victim again, and thus pour themselves into learning about their own behavior, vulnerabilities and areas in need of improvement. A narcissist believes it’s everyone ELSE that needs to change.

….The narcissist isn’t at home tending to their self-care and reading every tidbit of information regarding recovery they can get their hands on. They’re out meeting new dating partners, out selling themselves on websites for dating, flirting, laughing and gayly enjoying a life not fettered by consequences.

The article is here, from After Narcissistic Abuse: Will The REAL Victim of Narcissistic Abuse Please Stand Up

Some of my blog posts may seem disjointed at times; they also may seem quite sure of terms like “narcissist” and “abuse”….But keep in mind that:

–It took me several years to sort things out, starting in 2008.

–Initially, after we broke off the abusive friendship in 2010, my venting was done through vague Facebook posts and a private list of grievances.

–I knew there was abuse, but knew nothing about borderline or narcissistic personality disorders.  I think I came across this through Sam Vaknin’s website.

–It took me months to even begin to write a germ of a story on my website, which started as simply a few paragraphs on my page about abuse.  It wasn’t meant to be a novel-length account, but just a few paragraphs.  But it just kept building and building.

I wrote e-mails to friends and posts on Orthodox forums with basic descriptions, but to really sit down and write a narrative describing everything that happened?  I just couldn’t, not at first.  But once I began, it took many months after that to finish it.

–It took months of searching the Net for help, finding various blogs with other survivors, and writing down my experiences, before I could even figure out what the heck just happened, or stop blaming myself or feeling guilty.

My abusers yelled and screamed at my husband and me, online or off, while we tried to get them to calm down with my apologies.  I was the one left a puddle of emotional mush, while my abusers just went on with life and didn’t bother to even apologize.

Yet when they found my website and blog and I told them to leave me alone, they went to my priest and who knows how many friends (I found some interesting hits from various places on my blog), and cried “victim.”

They even wrote to me crying “victim,” poked fun at me for still being upset over what they did and not wanting to see them, treated me like what they did was nothing at all and I should just get over it.

Then they proceeded to force themselves in my face, coming to my church and shoving up behind me in the communion line, breathing and snarling down my neck, smearing me to my priest, then persisting in following my blog no matter how often I told them to go away or blocked them.

Do they sound like the victims to you?  Am I the one bullying them, as they claimed?

 

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