Attack of Phil’s Flying Monkey and Sycophant: Dirk (Part 1)–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 9

I had been trying the past couple of days to get to Career Services, but they were closed each time I could make it.  The problem was finding a time when they were open that fit with my schedule.

I was thinking of finding a job in S– so I could stay around there, which I used to think I would do anyway, unless Phil and I went to live with my parents after the wedding.

Anyway, since this was right after the split and it still seemed possible that he would cool off and call off the divorce, it made sense to make sure I could stay in the area until then.

And it was also to stay near my friends.  I didn’t have many left in South Bend that I was still in touch with, but I had a bunch around S–.  I mention this for a reason that will soon become clear.

Wednesday evening I went to the library to take care of some class business, and Dirk was there, working.  He said he had a few things to discuss with me, if I wanted to talk to him.  I agreed.

He asked another student worker to cover for him while he took me into the adjoining room, the one with reference books and oversized books.  We sat on one of the couches by the oversized books, and talked.  This spot seemed too public, so I hoped our voices were low enough to not be overheard.

We talked about all sorts of things.  I could tell that Phil fed him all sorts of untrue things about me.  He gave me advice I did not need; told me to do things I was already doing, chewed me out for things I supposedly did or didn’t do.

He knew everything about relationships, me, and Phil.  He knew the real reason for the secret marriage (which he didn’t tell me).  He knew Phil was upset about particular things, and why, though I did not.  He knew how I could get Phil back.

He would tell Phil if I responded appropriately to this lecture.  Red flag warning!

He knew how a girl should act to get men (apparently, my dressing in attractive but modest clothes wasn’t enough to “dress to impress,” even though a Christian woman should not be “showing her wares,” so to speak).  He knew that I–Well, let’s just quote him:

“You’re the only girl I’ve ever thought I needed to tell this to,” he said, “but here goes: You’ll probably end up an old maid.”  (Yeah, tell that to my husband and child.)

He knew everything about the Bible and what it really said about sex; if he were wrong, he’d be struck down for the things he’d done.

He knew that I should convert to Catholicism if I wanted to marry Phil–even though I would have ended up one of those reluctant, “bad” Catholics who don’t really believe it.

He apparently didn’t know that there are ways for Catholics to marry non-Catholics so that even the Catholic church recognizes it, even without a Catholic ceremony or Mass.

Such weddings can be blessed by a priest, even if not officiated by one.  It sounds like Phil did not even bother looking into these alternatives, which is a shame, because they could have settled everything to the satisfaction of him and me.

Note how Dirk tried to shame me into abandoning my own beliefs and switching to Catholicism.  Red flag warning!

Unfortunately, Dirk was just like Shawn, and could talk you into believing anything he said.  Then later on, after talking to friends or contemplating, you’d realize, “He doesn’t know anything about me/the situation/reality!”

For one thing, it’s impossible to be an old maid when you’ve already been married.  For another, without adopting any of his suggestions of how to get men, but by being myself, I got three more boyfriends that year, and married one of them.

He told me that Phil thought my friends wouldn’t let him sit down when we were watching My So-Called Life, just because they gave him the only seat left, a cushioned milk crate we often sat on.

But that wasn’t all.  The time he came over after playing D&D with Dirk and his new girlfriend, and we were playing Spoons, Phil said he didn’t feel welcome, and no one let him sit down.  Both times, I didn’t defend him.

Well, I said, I didn’t know I needed to–I saw no such thing!   (Shows how much Phil communicated with me!)  So now Dirk thought I was horrible, over something that didn’t even actually happen, that wasn’t even true.  

And if Phil was so offended by something I had no clue about, why didn’t he speak up about it to my friends, instead of putting it all on my shoulders?  Am I his attack dog now, too?

Dirk chewed me out for telling Phil about my crush on Mike.  Apparently, Phil didn’t tell Dirk his rule that we confide in each other about attractions to others, or that Phil found it totally appropriate to tell me every girl he lusted after.

Apparently, what was good for the gander was verboten for the goose.  How dare I be attracted to a sweet, non-abusive guy after a summer of abuse, and how dare I mention it after my husband’s been repeatedly telling me I’m not enough for him.

Dirk also seemed to think I didn’t know what love is or what it means, and said I needed to learn that.  He asked, did I ever do anything romantic, like a candlelight dinner?–

While I thought, wait a minute, why in the heck is he telling me these things????  Why should he ask such a thing?

I stay faithful despite everything, and Phil leaves me without trying to work things out, yet Dirk says I don’t know the meaning of love?  If that were the case, then why did I stick by men until they left me, instead of leaving them first?

And who ever said I was not romantic?  I loved romance, and I liked special moments to be special however they could be.

I didn’t do candlelight dinners because I didn’t cook and I didn’t have any candles, and it wasn’t like we ever had the chance to anyway.  There was no place in the dorms, where they were verboten, and we lived with our parents.

That didn’t mean I didn’t make up for it in other ways.  Candlelight dinners are not the only romantic thing you can do.

I am a romantic soul, the one who writes about passionate love between aliens and time-travelers and such, and between humans and vampires.  I fell in love so easily with the people I dated, and longed for romance.  I didn’t/don’t know where Dirk even got the idea that I might be lacking in love or romance.

Phil abuses me in various ways all summer, fights everything I need or want, cuts me down constantly, even sexually assaults me because he refuses to respect my wishes that sex not involve excruciating pain, but I don’t know anything about what love is or what it means?

I don’t know what Phil had been telling him, but obviously it was a whole pack of lies.  Phil had his brain so screwed over that Dirk thought he knew everything about me and what happened, but he knew absolutely nothing.

I could tell Phil didn’t listen to me, but Dirk listened to him.  Dirk was a pawn in Phil’s Control by Proxy.  Nowadays, he’d be called a Flying Monkey or a sycophant.  I never had a thing to do with him after September.

For example, when Phil broke up with me, he kept saying, “You say you want to be a housewife,” as if that were a fault, as if I refused to ever work outside the home.

I’d tell him that’s not what I said, but he kept harping on it.  Over the summer, I told him again and again that I wanted to be a housewife so I could have time for my writing, because I saw writing as my life, not any other career.

But I said again and again that after we got publicly married and moved out on our own, I’d do my share to bring in money until he got his acting break–even work in a factory if I had to.

But my wish was to one day retire from this and write full-time–once we could afford it.  I also felt it was best to stay at home with our future children.

I never said I’d refuse to work no matter what.  I just said I preferred a traditional role so I would have time to work on my writing career.

Now, Dirk started harping on my wanting to be a housewife.  Phil must have ignored everything I ever said on the subject, and told Dirk I was not willing to contribute financially.  Here’s the gist of what Dirk said:

“You should have plans for something to do with your life.  You’re smart.  You can do something, make something of yourself.  Look at Margaret Thatcher–she’s a prime minister!  Just because you’re a woman don’t think you can’t do anything important.  Find a career goal.”

What I wish I would’ve said to Dirk: “I do have a career goal: I want to publish novels, as I told Phil many times.  It takes brains to do that, and it’s important. 

“And what the heck ever gave you the idea that I thought women could do nothing important?  Do you think I could be born in the 1970s and grow up in the 1980s thinking that women were fit only to look pretty in the drawing room?

And what’s so unimportant about raising children and running a household?  Just tell a stay-at-home mother of three kids that she’s lazy, she’s not contributing and her work is meaningless–and see what happens.

“Once upon a time, women were expected to be housewives; now that the pendulum has swung the other way, women are often expected to go out and get a job along with taking care of the house, and derided if they want a traditional role.”

I have to wonder if Dirk knew that Phil treated me like a disobedient servant, not a wife, a throwback to the days when men thought women couldn’t handle intellectual pursuits.

Just so you know I meant what I told Phil:

After college, I got a full-time job in insurance.  I worked for a couple of years, became a homemaker for a year after being downsized, then worked again part-time for four years to pay off some debts.  Then I became a stay-at-home mother.

All along, I have written; my books are now published here and making a little bit of money.  I am also getting some success as a blogger.

Just what I said I would do, and all perfectly acceptable.  Despite how he and Dirk both scorned it, I’m living the dream, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

This article by Frederica Mathewes-Green, an Orthodox woman who used to be a feminist Episcopalian, describes how feminism–while certainly making good changes, such as the vote for women and more natural standards of beauty–also made some very bad changes.  One was the idea that women should find careers more important than staying at home, that “staying home and raising kids was mindless drudgery,” that “housewives were dumb.”

There’s nothing wrong with mothers working.  But the choice of a housewife should be respected, not derided.  Housewives with children are very busy, and have to use their brains all day long; calling them lazy is ludicrous, as is saying that a housewife is wasting her brain.  These jobs would have to be done by somebody, even if the wife didn’t do them.

And I certainly don’t waste my brain when I do finances, make out a menu, or act as the tech support for my household, since I understand computers much better than my engineer husband does.

But back to September 1994.  Though ticked and confused, instead of what I should have said, I said, “Tomorrow I’ll go to Career Services.”  (You’ll note I’d been trying to go there already anyway.)  He said that was good, and he would tell Phil that.

I should have told him off.  Of course, I don’t remember what else I said.  I might have set him straight, or tried to.

Right after I said I’d go to Career Services, I said that the next day I would also talk to Pearl about what he said about InterVarsity.  He was pleased with that as well, and said he’d tell Phil about that.

So you see, he got me under a bit of a spell, controlling my mind, getting me to think he was right even when his words made no sense and had no connection to reality.

Part 2

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:

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Phil cuts off contact–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 8

That night was awful.  I tried to talk to Phil about what the counselor said.  I didn’t yell or scold or anything.

But he stonewalled, suddenly abandoned me for a time to talk to Dirk, treated me like a stupid witch who had nothing worthwhile to say, then treated me like I had no right to wonder when we were going to get back to our conversation.  These are abuse tactics.

They sat in the foyer of the library, while I was inside the library, on the other side of the wall/windows and glass door.

So Dirk, who knew absolutely nothing about marriage, became Phil’s choice of marriage counselor.  So Dirk became privy to who knew what, while I was given no chance whatsoever to tell Dirk my own side of things, and was left out of the conversation about me.

Dirk basically was put in the middle of everything, and probably fed Phil all sorts of bullcrap.

But I wasn’t even supposed to wonder how long this conversation was going to keep us from our own conversation, because when I went to the windows/door and looked at them, he made a gesture toward me as if to say to Dirk, “See what I mean?”

What on earth he meant by that, I had no clue, because I’d been left waiting by myself for quite a long time already, and this was extremely rude of Phil.

Earlier, he had given me every reason to believe that reconciliation was possible.  But now, after talking with Dirk, he suddenly said we couldn’t even be friends.  It is interference like this that led to me loathing Dirk, so much so that 20 years later, I still won’t even friend him on Facebook.

This stunned me.  I can’t remember why he said this.  I doubt that I knew then what changed the course of the conversation, because he only communicated through yelling and stonewalling.

But now as I look back over this, I’m certain it was Dirk’s doing.  I don’t know why on earth Dirk was so determined to split us up, since he did not want me for himself.  Unless, of course, Dirk was actually Phil’s pawn, manipulated into believing that I was the abuser instead of Phil.

I have every reason to believe this is why.  Abusers recruit others to help with the abuse, by making them believe that the victim is the abuser.  This is called control by proxy.

When I first made notes of this argument a couple of years later for my memoir, I wrote that Phil probably either overreacted–or was only acting.  He’d done a lot of acting those few days, as he told me a few days after this event–and as I realized when I contrasted his words to his actions.

All I could do was leave him and not talk to him again.

I didn’t realize yet that his actions proved he had never loved me, no matter what he told me before or his insistence that he still loved me.  When you truly love someone, you don’t treat her this way.

In 1996 or 1997, as I worked with Cugan’s friend Laura on ideas for my wedding dress, she told me she knew Phil.  He used to come into the gaming shop where she was a clerk, and buy dice and other Dungeons and Dragons items.  She knew that Phil had to marry his girlfriend.  And that shop was in M–, not S–!  Small state, eh?

He used to go there with his high school friends, with whom he kept in touch after high school.  Laura told me they were upset with him over something, and that he’d been ostracized for it, but she didn’t know what the thing was.  I always wondered if they finally saw how he treated his women.

Laura used to think he was a nice guy, but she had been an abused wife herself, and stopped liking him as soon as I told her he was “borderline abusive.”

I’ll say this as well, in case any of you finds yourself in a similar situation.  I have heard and read other stories of emotional abuse.  In one, the guy made a date with another woman while lying in bed with his girlfriend, and then told his girlfriend she deserved that.

Many times, an abuser will hit his wife because she did something he thought she shouldn’t have done.  She will then start to believe she deserved what she got.  Don’t let yourself get into this trap.

In the following months, my friend Helene said, “It sounds like he’s trying to control you even after the relationship is over.”

Did he break up with me because he couldn’t control me?  (Sort of like in the song “Control” by Puddle of Mudd: “I can’t control you/ You’re not the one for me, no.”  Or in “Special” by Garbage: “I have run you down into the ground/ Spread disease about you over town/ I used to adore you/ I couldn’t control you.”

Also, in a letter to the editor in the 9/28/98 edition of US News and World Report, speaking of the Clinton/Lewinsky/Starr scandal and Hillary’s insistence on standing by her adulterous husband, a reader wrote, “Even women battered and bloodied will defend their abusers.”  A typical response of an abused woman is, “He was right and I was wrong.  I deserved what I got.”

In one way I was typical, in that I didn’t see the abuse for what it was.  In another I wasn’t, in that I refused to say I deserved what I got and that Phil was right to treat me the way he did.  This refusal to be a victim, to just sit back and take it, to act like a victim, may be a subconscious reason why Phil left me–which was actually a mercy.

Of course, some people might say I did sit back and take it like a victim, because I didn’t just tell him to leave.  But it’s common for abused women to say, as I did, that I loved him and didn’t want to leave.  After all the trouble I had finding a Christian man at a Christian college, and one who actually wanted to be with me, where else would I find one, especially one I had so much in common with?

Also, during the summer, even when I felt like telling Phil, “Go back to Wisconsin,” I didn’t because we were married.  I saw marriage as a lifelong commitment that was not to be broken lightly.

This may be why he married the new girl, who had been abused by a boyfriend before.  (We see the common trend of a woman subconsciously seeking out abusers, and finding them.  Cindy said she probably thought Phil wasn’t abusive because he didn’t seem as bad as the previous abuser.)

Years later, April 9 and 10, 1998, what can I say?  That he treated me like the bad guy when, all along, he was the bad guy.  He was emotionally abusive, and didn’t listen to a word I said, didn’t treat my feelings or ideas or words like they were worth his attention or care.

He’d said he’d be my husband, said we were meant for each other, even said he was my husband–yet had no respect for his commitment, or for me.  All he cared about was himself.  Just before the breakup, he told his friends that he still loved me–but he didn’t show it.

He also didn’t talk to me about whether or not a breakup was necessary, or even try to work out the misunderstanding of the night before the breakup, but to other people.  And then told me after he had already decided, all by himself.

(When did he talk to them?  There wasn’t much time in between Thursday night and Friday afternoon.  And how long did he take to process the things they said?  Did he even give himself enough time?)

He talked with my parents on the phone, at their request, but didn’t listen to them; he didn’t even want to go to a counselor for help.  It was all what he wanted, and he didn’t listen to any of my suggestions for what we could do to fix things.

He seemed to think I was the problem, but was too blind to see that very similar things would happen all over again with other girlfriends.  He refused to see his own failings, while I was willing to see mine.

But when you look at why I did them–because he was so hard to deal with and I didn’t know how else to get through to him, and he was so irresponsible that I was forced to nag at him for things–you can easily see they were tiny compared to his own failings.  (It’s called catching fleas from your abuser.)

Being forced to act like a mother and make a guy get up in time to go to his own job, being forced to nag at him until he gets his brakes fixed because this is the last day he’ll have a chance (before you go on a long road trip back to campus) and he just wants to be a slugabed–

These are nothing compared to the sin of emotional abuse, sexual abuse by forcing someone to do unnatural acts, and the threat of physical abuse if he finally decided to carry out his threats to hit.

He threatened me once or twice with physical violence (I have described at least one such instance to you), and really did slap Persephone while they were together.  (She slapped him right back, and he never did it to her again.)

And my second husband, Cugan, considers some of the sexual abuse to be physical as well, because after all, it took physical force to do the things he did.

Phil said he was a better person when not around me–a convenient phrase taken from Mrs. Doubtfire–but this was not true.  He was no better with Persephone, as I describe later.

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

Cindy heard him yelling at her the way he used to yell at me, and she was not happy with him at all.  When the new girlfriend got pregnant, Pearl tried to warn her not to marry him; she didn’t listen.  And in 2007, they divorced.

At a Christmas party at Sharon’s house in 1997, my friends, not me, brought up the subject of Phil, soon after somebody said they saw Dave working at Dunham’s Sporting Goods.  Pearl said with a laugh that Phil and his new wife’s kid should be taken away by the SPCC, the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

My friends told me he treated me like a child, and that’s one reason why they no longer liked him soon after we started dating–besides the fact that they considered him annoying.

But back to September 1994.  When you’ve been married to and living with someone all summer and they suddenly cut off all contact with you, even though they’ve been abusing you, you feel like a part of you is lost.

Wednesday, September 14.  On one of these early days of the week, Helene came to the library and saw me.  That’s probably when I told her about the breakup, while updating the card catalog.

She said she had been engaged three times since her husband died in a plane crash, and each engagement had been broken.  She was numb for the first few days afterward.

I felt similar, and could barely get through my shifts at the library.  Time was molasses, so slow I could hardly bear it.  Everything I did at the library, including updating the card catalog, made me restless.

I confided in Helene, called her on the phone once, and often sat with her at lunch during the next several months.  I talked about my feelings and got her advice; we discussed a book she lent me about dealing with a divorce.

For both of us, a favorite part of the book described a counselor’s experience in his support group for divorcees.  One woman saw her ex-husband having a picnic with a new girlfriend.  She ran her vehicle over them.  The people in the group said, “Ooh!  Did she back up and run over them again?”

While I confided in Helene, Phil confided in her best friend Kay.  He seemed to think of her as a sister.

I think it was Helene, or maybe Anna, who first said Phil seemed like good marriage material, but needed to grow up.  But later on, Helene said his turning to Persephone confirmed her worst fears about him, that he would go on to somebody else right away rather than trying to work out problems.

I told her how Phil treated me during the marriage; she liked him less every time I talked to her about him.

I spent most of my time with my friends or working or in class or eating or alone in the apartment, trying to do homework and deal with things and get on with life.

As much as possible, I wanted to go on with my daily life without grief interfering.  I lost very little, if any, sleep, and kept eating properly.  I dealt with things much better than when Peter broke up with me.

And after what Phil said on Tuesday night, I kept my distance from him.  No, I was never the stalker-type; if somebody told me to stop talking to them, I stopped.

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:

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He said, “She’s giving, like me.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note this from Myndtalk’s “Emotional Abuse”:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He also said Dirk called the list a stupid idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Phil wants a divorce–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 5

On Friday, while I worked in the library with Sharon, I told her I was sad and didn’t know what was going on.

My old Lit teacher Wesley came up to the desk and we chatted.  Remember the crush I had on him?  He looked a bit scuzzy now: unshaven, long hair.

He asked what I’d be doing after graduation, and I said I’d be getting married.  (What a pity: He was now divorced and no longer my teacher.  And the student he once dated, just told him she was married now.  If I saw him a day or two later, who knows what would have happened?)

I saw Dirk standing by the copy machine, and felt uneasy.  After a few minutes, Wesley went on his way.

Dirk, still by the copy machine, and silent till now, talked to me near the end of my shift, and said Phil was upset.  I had no idea what he could be upset about, when he hadn’t waited around long enough for my answer, and it was good news.  Dirk just said he knew what was wrong and we needed to sit down and work this out between ourselves.  (So why bring it up, then?  And why was I the last to know?)

He also told me Phil was pledging Zetas again.  Phil knew I had problems with the Zetas, especially now that the cool ones had graduated.  He gave me every reason to believe he wanted nothing to do with pledging after how they treated him as a pledge the previous year.

I said, “What? He knows how I feel about that!”

Dirk said, “He’s got to live his own life.”  But wasn’t it our life together as man and wife?  As if the opinion of his own wife didn’t even matter!  How insulting!  And how devastating.

I felt like crying, though I did not know what was going on, and had to choke back tears as Sharon and I walked back to the apartment.

Someone soon knocked at the inside door (I don’t know how he got in the building without calling me).  Sharon went to answer it, then came back in our bedroom, saying, “Uh-oh, Nyssa, uh-oh!”  She left us alone as Phil walked in.

He told me there were too many problems and he was breaking up with me.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was also upset because I had been faithful to the vows we made even when I wanted to break them, yet he just went ahead and broke them.

Now I finally learned that he petulantly thought no one wanted him to sit down when they offered him the little cushioned crate.

I don’t know what he expected to sit on, when there was nowhere else to sit.  I did not see the milk crate as offensive, nor did I see sitting on the floor as offensive when all other chairs were already taken.  It’s just part of college life; I sat on lots of floors.

I feel he overreacted big-time and took it out on me.  I guess what was good enough for the rest of us to sit on, was not good enough for his majesty.  (A quick Net search shows that cushioned milk crates are often used as extra seats.)

Yet he thought I should’ve stood up for him when my friends treated him “so bad.”  But this was impossible because I didn’t even know anything was wrong.  I’m not a mindreader, and I saw nothing at all amiss in the way my friends treated him.

He also said it looked like we were just watching some 90210-like “teeny-bopper” show, and he didn’t want to wait for such a show to get over with.

But this show was critically acclaimed, ahead of its time, and inspired the first-ever online fan campaign to get it renewed when it was prematurely cancelled.

Phil’s remarks insulted both my taste and my intelligence, and all my friends’ as well.

This tells me that because he didn’t consider the show worth his time, I wasn’t supposed to like it, either, or be excited about watching it, or do anything but jump to his command. 

If he says now it’s time to talk, even though I have previously made plans and he made absolutely no effort to contact me about when he would stop by–oh, I’m just supposed to jump and do whatever he says right then because he said so.

I never had a chance to tell him I had chosen him over the other guy.  Instead, without a word he had vanished to a party with Dave, where he told drunken party boys about our problems and lusted after some girls.  He even wanted to get drunk and lose his inhibitions so he’d sleep with one of them.

Fortunately, he didn’t listen to the advice of drunken party boys, but tempered it with the advice of a married friend to give me another chance.

He said the drunken party boys told him, “Oh, just dump her.”  He didn’t want to listen to them because they were selfish and drunk–

–but what was he doing, telling guys like that about our problems?  These boys–

–who didn’t know me and only knew the slanted story of somebody who gaslit and abused me, and told lies about me to his friends–

–called me “possessive.”  I wasn’t possessive at all.  (Sharon, on the other hand, called him possessive.)

He said he’d been talking to a friend of his, a married man whom he often went to about relationships, and asked how he could break up with me when we were married.

This guy said it wasn’t long enough to be a common-law marriage.  I think he said it had to be at least six months in Wisconsin.  He also said he thought Nazarenes recognized it, but the Catholic church didn’t.  (I had never heard of the Nazarene church accepting or not accepting common-law marriages.)

Phil conveniently forgot that this never bothered him before.  He hadn’t cared who thought it was a “real” marriage so long as it was one in God’s eyes.  We already knew that the church and the law would not call it a marriage, but as far as we were concerned, it was one.

At least, that’s what Phil always told me whenever I started to doubt.  He was the one who kept having to convince me

Also, we knew Wisconsin didn’t recognize common-law marriages in the first place, so what difference did it make how long we’d been together?

In a research frenzy, I later checked Pearl’s dictionary: It described two different types of common-law marriages, one based on length of time and the other based only on agreement.  For the second, all you needed for a common-law marriage was an agreement to live as man and wife.

Phil’s confidant also asked if he loved me, and he did not hesitate before saying yes.  Though after reading about abusers and narcissists, I now doubt that he ever loved me at all.  You don’t sexually assault and emotionally abuse someone you love.

He complained about “us eating just because you’re hungry.”  Say what?  Was I not even allowed to say I was hungry and wanted lunch, not even in the middle of the afternoon, if he wasn’t yet hungry?

He said “I’m not your taxicab”–just because I was scared to death of driving and had no car anyway, so I asked him to take me places?

He complained about me telling him when to wake up and, supposedly, making his self-esteem drop.

So–

–begging him to wake up in time to take a shower and have a decent breakfast, instead of sleeping until 2pm and not showering at all for weeks at a time, and begging him to wake up on the last possible day he could get his brakes fixed so we wouldn’t get killed on the way back to Wisconsin–

–was horrible?

What a load of crap.  I can’t believe I tried so hard to get this loser back.

All summer, whenever I doubted the validity of our marriage because it wasn’t legally recognized in Indiana or Wisconsin, he insisted on the validity and told me not to worry about it.

But now, he said our marriage wasn’t real.  He could probably get away with that in his church because our marriage was never blessed by a priest (i.e., not valid in the Catholic church), but what about in front of God?

So, according to him, it takes two people to end a marriage if one is abusive, but only one to end it if the other person is not subservient enough.

And, apparently, Phil decides when a secret marriage is real and valid–which is when he wants it to be.

Well, I considered it real and valid, and this was not a breakup, not the end of an engagement, but a divorce.

All the anxieties of a divorced, conservative Christian woman came into play: Will I be an adulteress if I marry somebody else?  Must I be reconciled to him or else never marry again?  Will I be free to marry again because he deserted me–the Pauline privilege?  Will he be an adulterer if he marries again?

I had spent all summer trying to be a good wife: supporting him when he had job trouble, vacuuming and dusting our rooms for him, washing and bleaching the skid marks out of his underwear, praying for his safety.  And this was my repayment?

If there were any other reasons given at this time, I don’t remember what they were.

Basically, he blamed it on me.  Yeah, right.  I believe he just broke up with me because I wasn’t willing to give in to his constant emotional, physical and sexual abuse.  (The physical abuse was, basically, the sexual abuse; they were intertwined in this case.)

By not letting him control me or make me the “victim,” I was doing so many “bad” things that I had to become obedient and change for him to come back to me.

If I were such a bad person, then why did I not act badly with my next three boyfriends?  And why did I never cry with anyone as often as I cried with him?

Yet I hear that Phil, on the other hand, carried on to his next two relationships at least some of the things he did to me.  He acted the same, he yelled, he manipulated, he controlled, he acted petulant when he didn’t get his own way, and he even slapped his next girlfriend Persephone (only once because she slapped him back).

Cindy later told me that she heard him yell at me in the Krueger lounge, so she didn’t like him.  Then she heard him do the same thing with the girl he eventually married (and later divorced).  My friends saw him be mean to her, and want his way, only his way, and that’s it.

Mike later wrote to me that abusers commonly blame their girlfriends or wives for their behavior.  They’ll abuse and abuse and sometimes even go so far as killing them, yet still say their wives deserved it, that they did so many things wrong that it was their fault.

Phil fit the trait “unceremoniously discarding,” here: What is Abuse (“Overt Abuse”).  For years, I wondered why an abuser would leave his victim, and thought that it must have been because I resisted.  Of course, Dr. Phil might still say I allowed the abuse by continuing to stay with him.  But now I see that abusers do discard, so maybe I don’t need to figure out a reason.

I could admit to doing some things I shouldn’t have, but he took no responsibility for his own wrongdoing.  During the talk, I didn’t think of the things he did, of saying that he was no saint, but they began to come to me later on.

For some reason, the song “Insanity” by Boingo kept running through my head.

Like an idiot, I thought I’d be better off with him than without him (apparently forgetting all the emotional abuse of the summer), and begged him not to divorce me.  I said, “But things were getting better!”

He said he had given me so many chances to change, and that I hadn’t done so, but if I changed within a month, we could get back together.

(ME?  I had to change?  I was not the abuser!)

He said we might change after seeing other people.  I asked him for a parting kiss, but all he gave me was a peck on the lips.  He said just before he left, “Keep the faith.”  (What the heck did that even mean?)

After he left, I broke down and cried.

I told my parents, though I had to call them collect through the new 1-800-CALL-ATT because my phone card number stopped working for some reason.  My mom could tell I was upset just from the way I said hello to her.

She had hoped I wouldn’t have to go through this again.  I think she told me to eat something.  She did tell me to go to that night’s dance with my friends, that it would be good for me, take my mind off things.

For at least a few days, I made a lot of collect calls, until my dad got a new number for me.  I believe he switched long-distance carriers to Sprint, which was why the number didn’t work.  The new number was very easy to remember, mostly made up of our home phone number.

I didn’t want to do a thing without my parents’ advice, for fear I’d mess things up if I did.  I remembered how I messed things up with Peter when I acted on impulse.

Possibly at dinner, I met Persephone for the first time.  She was a dark-haired girl with short hair, a freshman, Trina’s roommate.

Some of the other freshman girls had told her they came to Roanoke to get married.  She laughed about it with us, having already discovered that Roanoke guys had a bad reputation.

She said, “That’s it, I’m not sleeping with any Roanoke guys!”  This secretly made me glad, because then she wouldn’t be sleeping with Phil.

Either before or after I met her, Phil told me he was interested in a girl named Persephone.  I soon found out this was the same one.

I went to the Friday dance, after all, even though Phil and I were supposed to go together and now we wouldn’t.  This was supposed to be my chance to see him dance.

Well, I did see him dance, though it was across the room.  It was hard for some time afterwards to hear the songs “Funkytown” (Pseudo Echo’s version) and “Delirious” (Prince) and remember his foot-stamping.  He was a weirdo jumping-bean on the dance floor.  Though I didn’t notice, he later said my friends kept giving him dirty looks.

Once, he danced over to me, and I said he did dance weird.

It felt good to dance and escape and work out some of my grief, though I couldn’t stay there long.  I may have left alone, or with my friends.

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:

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
%d bloggers like this: