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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

****

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

****

By December 15 I sent Mike the following note:

Querido Miguel,

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

Estrella

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

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

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

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

Liebe Astrid,

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

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

Jutta-Uschi

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He told Pearl he didn’t say those things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

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Struggling to move on despite the pain–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–November 1994, Part 1

At an Open Mike session one night, Dr. Nelson read a story, a long one with tons of pages, but very funny.  It was a conversation between two people.

He read quickly through each page–not too fast for comprehension, and apparently on purpose.  When he finished reading through a sheet, he tossed it on the floor.  That, as well as the story itself, was part of the hilarity and amusement of the story.

The Open Mike gatherings seemed to be quite popular that year.  I’m not sure how long they’d been around, but I believe they started in my underclassman days, when they were held in the Muskie.

They’d been well-attended in past years by students and teachers, but maybe even more now, probably because they were in the Pub where people liked to hang out day and night.

Many different people participated now, and it was no longer just a treat for writers: Singers and musicians were now welcome.  Two married teachers, who also had a band, played Celtic music one night, when the husband taught my Celtic class over Winterim.

One night, as my friends and I found seats, I caught a glimpse of Persephone sitting at the bar and Phil standing or sitting next to or behind her, his hand on her shoulder.  THAT was something I didn’t need to see!

I suppose I don’t even need to mention how incensed and upset and sick this made me.  But I just walked by them, ignoring them both, and went to a table with my friends and enjoyed the readings and performances.

I didn’t want Phil to think he could spoil my evening just by showing up with another girl.  I had to be stronger than that.

****

Most of my friends didn’t hang around with Peter much and didn’t know him very well, so didn’t often talk about him.  With Phil, however, things were very different.

My suitemates and possibly Astrid all went to town one day, Mike driving.  We stopped in a parking lot and Mike said before we got out,

“I’m mad at Phil O’Hara.  You know what he told me?  He said I shouldn’t wear my key chain necklace because it makes me look like a girl.”

This was the Roanoke Key Chain Necklace, a big blue thing, which was “high fashion” around campus.  You know, the sort of thing you see in any club or institution which gives out key cards.  Lots of people wore them, both male and female.

Pearl said, upset, “I wouldn’t trust anything Phil says about what’s manly.  What does he know about it?”

Another time, Charles said he didn’t like people forcing friendship on him.  He said Phil did this.  I believe he meant Phil always trying to talk with him when he didn’t want him to, or things like that, and people trying to be friends with him even though he sent out signals that he didn’t want to be.

****

We started giving Mike time-outs.  Whenever he got too weird and his jokes got way too weirdly dirty, someone called out, “Time out, Mike!” and he was supposed to settle down.  I didn’t do this myself, maybe because I have a high tolerance for oddballs–so much so that I married one.  🙂

A popular college myth, which we all believed, got exposed as a myth one day, probably senior year.  It was, if your roommate dies, you get straight A’s because of the emotional anguish.  It may have been the Mirror which revealed this wasn’t at all true.

I learned in 1998 that this is apparently a popular myth in colleges all over the country, because a comedy movie came out about a kid who tries to kill his roommate and make it look like a suicide so he can get straight A’s.

One Sunday evening, when snow covered the ground, Mike drove Pearl, Sharon or Astrid, and me to a church in S–.  We got lost.  Finally we found the church, but the service was already halfway done.

We found the congregation watching a movie (an actual projector-movie, not a VCR tape) about Dave Roever, who lost half his face in Vietnam but now uses this as a witness to how Christ helped him go on.

Since the lights were off, we could sneak in and hope nobody noticed us.  When the movie ended, people saw and greeted us and asked who we were.  They were excited to hear we were college students.  Did they know we came late?

Some guy called Mario became the target of cafeteria tray jokes.  I think he was in a frat.  I don’t know if he was a freshman pledge or what.  But people kept writing these awful, explicit jokes about him on the cafeteria trays.

My group tried to avoid the “Mario trays,” but it wasn’t always possible.  When we failed, we’d say, “Uh-oh, I’ve got a Mario tray.”

Our InterVarsity sweatshirts, ordered earlier in the year, now arrived.  They were dark blue with gold lettering.  The front said “InterVarsity Christian Fellowship” and had an alpha, cross and omega.

The back said, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.–Isaiah 9:2.”

They seemed to be a fashion statement for our group: One day I went to a meal and found everybody at the table wearing one, even Charles.

****

Apparently, a lot of things bugged me that semester.  I guess Phil put me into a bad mood that lasted until December: I could feel myself getting dark and maybe even turning into less of a nice and caring person than I was before.  I didn’t like it, but didn’t know what to do about it.

Phil kept sitting at our table at meals–surrounded by people who he knew disliked him–and getting cutesy with Persephone, rubbing his new relationship in my face.

Apparently his ex-wife was not worth what respect and sensitivity he once showed to his ex Tracy when he was with me.

I was mad at Phil and getting madder, a typical response to abuse of any type, and it seems this affected my attitude toward life in general.

It took time to pull out of this, and the help of a man who treated me much better, teaching me I didn’t have to be on the defensive all the time in case another guy turned out to be a Phil.

By 1999, I started to feel more like the type of person I was supposed to be.

****

As you may have noted with the story of the Halloween party in the last chapter, Pearl was finally back, but now she had to use the wheelchair again.

When she could use her scooter she was very independent, but this was the second time she had to depend on other people to get her around the campus.  Sometimes it was hard to correlate schedules to get someone to push her wheelchair.

We’d do it for her because she was our friend and we loved her, but it did make it harder for us and, I’m sure, for her.  I know I wouldn’t like having to be dependent on somebody else every time I wanted to go across campus or even to the next building.

She couldn’t go anywhere on her own because she just wasn’t physically capable of using her scooter until she got better.  (I believe this is the time they removed one of her hips, and later they gave her a replacement.)  And that wheelchair was heavy and hard to push!

I hated seeing her in this situation, and I’m sure everybody did.  We worried about her because she had to go through so much.

She was able to walk once, long ago, and she was supposedly going to be able to walk again by this year, but there were complications and it didn’t turn out that way.

(I believe her problem was rheumatoid arthritis in the legs, which caused her not only to need crutches and the scooter, but also kept her at a childlike height.)

****

It was sometimes painful to work on my novel Jerisland, but I had to because it was now my Senior Writing Project.

When I broke up with Peter, I couldn’t work on it because I had imagined the hero Stefan was like Peter.  Stefan and Jeri were supposed to be happy together forever.  Now, all summer I had imagined Stefan was like Phil.

Before, I put the breakup with Peter in Jerisland and made things happen the way I wished (at the time) that they would have happened.  Though Stefan did awful things to Jeri, he apologized and made up for them.

In this latest rewrite, Jeri became the dumper, not Stefan.  She listened to Stefan’s best friend, who tried to convince her she belonged with Stefan.

Since Stefan reminded me of Phil, and some of the things I wrote in the story came from my relationship with Phil, it was hard to write that Stefan and Jeri had a happy marriage that lasted forever.

But I had to because there was no way I wanted those two to break up.  It seemed I could never have a happy relationship that lasted for the rest of my life, but dang it, I wanted Jeri to have one with Stefan!

****

Apparently we were supposed to read shelves in the library.  I had never heard of this rule before, or that any of us had been assigned to certain shelves.  But Sharon and I started doing this together.

We basically scanned the Dewey decimal numbers to make sure the books were in order.

It could get boring quickly, but we talked about life, and the cool and old and weird and German-language books we’d find.

We even found one on Egyptian hieroglyphics.  We checked it out of the library.  We were supposed to draw up our own copy of the Egyptian alphabet, but never got around to that.  I loved working with Sharon.

I enjoyed re-shelving books.  Pulling or pushing along the book cart, going upstairs in the elevator (the only one on campus besides the one in the Wehr Center), going in among the stacks putting books away–it all made me feel so important: “I work here!”

We put the books in numerical order before taking the cart away from the circulation desk, to speed up re-shelving.

Re-shelving took me away from the desk and from life in general, sticking me in among the stacks, where I wanted to be.  I still had no clue where Tara and Sarah’s “haunted bookshelf” was.  (They said books would fall out of it.)

Sometimes I felt a little creeped out in the juvenile section, a tiny room at the very top of the building.  My friends told stories about it being haunted.

But I’d find the most wonderful and obscure books in the library, and often come back with books on the cart, to be checked out.  I loved checking my own book out rather than waiting for a clerk, writing my name on the card, putting it in the card box, and putting a date due card in the book.

Sometimes I felt light-headed and dizzy in this room.  Sometimes I wondered if I felt this way because I was pregnant.  At various times in my life, I’ve had these sudden bouts of dizziness, though they don’t last long, and I go years without feeling it again.

Of course, nowadays I am aware that my dizziness in that room could’ve been caused by elevation and an old structure.  This can also explain dizziness people sometimes feel in old houses, which they attribute to ghosts.

But it wasn’t as bad as when he first divorced me and I could barely get through my two hours (dazed or numb, Helene called it), trying to go through the card catalog doing a project we’d been given, and not go crazy with the pain, fear of losing my husband forever, and sadness.  The working day took forever in those days.

But in November, trying to get through the work day wasn’t quite so bad anymore.  Being in the stacks alone or with Sharon, though sometimes hard to handle when sad thoughts returned, was often a solace, reminding me that I belonged among books.  My purpose and calling was to read and write.

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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Fierce anger against Phil and PTSD from the abuse–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 15

My friends were disgusted with how Phil had been treating me.  This included at least two guys–Mike and Charles–so it wasn’t just the female perspective saying he was an a**hole.

I later learned that James, too, thought he was a creep, and that Phil and Persephone deserved each other because she was the most negative person he ever met.

Sharon said Phil was domineering and possessive.  It was funny because he or his “friends” had been saying I was possessive!  I sure couldn’t remember being possessive.  She (the Psych major) said he had a psychosis, and that his whole family was psychotic, so she tried to stay away from them all.

Though I still had trouble letting go of all my feelings, I think this time I got so angry that I lost all the love I ever had in my heart for him.  Though at times the feelings returned, in my heart it was over.

The times I wanted him back, were probably denial of the truth, or fear of ending up alone.  His true self had been shown to me in vivid technicolor.

I hope I haven’t done too much ranting in these blogs, but I felt I needed to show what happened, just in case one of you finds yourself in similar situation.  You don’t have to stay there.  I also wanted to tell people what really happened.

I’ve read that women who’ve been abused in some way often have trouble with anger management.  That might explain why I got incredibly angry with Phil–more angry than I ever was with Peter or Shawn–and to this day still struggle with residual anger.  My friends and family heard me say things about Phil that they never heard me say about anybody else, and it shocked them.

Quoted from Abuse in a Christian Marriage:

“The feelings you’re likely dealing with Crystal are anger, pain, betrayal, fear, trauma, sadness, shame and more. These are very common feelings for abuse victims, and in order to get past them they have to be acknowledged and dealt with.”

Also see later on, “Healing from past abuse.

What also didn’t help me get over the anger: Recently [this was written in 2006], Dr. Phil McGraw said on his show that if a woman does not feel heard, she keeps saying it over and over until she does feel heard.

I did not feel heard, so I said what I needed to say in letters.  Still, I got no apology, just a guy who acted like I had nothing to be angry about.  Why on earth did I not want to say hi to him when he said it to me?  Gee, why do you think?

It’s hard to forgive and let go when someone never acknowledges they did something horrible to you, when they never show remorse.  Years later, it still burns you up, no matter how much you pray for the strength to forgive.

The only thing to make forgiveness easier is to finally receive an apology.  Even if it takes many years, that’s still better than never.

Bullying causes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, lower self-worth and feeling helpless.  It is a psychiatric injury, which traumatizes a person.  

When a bully is supported by his friends, when authority figures aren’t interested in stepping in–even resorting to blaming you for the bullying, when the bully “gets away with it”–this makes it much harder for the bullied to reach “closure.”  

Here are listed traits of complex post-traumatic stress disorder and of psychiatric injury; I especially identify with these traits:

  • An overwhelming desire for acknowledgement, understanding, recognition and validation of their experience

  • A lack of desire for revenge, but a strong motivation for justice

  • A tendency to oscillate between conciliation (forgiveness) and anger (revenge) with objectivity being the main casualty

  • A constant feeling that one has to justify everything one says and does

  • A constant need to prove oneself, even when surrounded by good, positive people

  • An unusually strong sense of vulnerability, victimisation or possible victimisation, often wrongly diagnosed as “persecution”

  • Feelings of worthlessness, rejection, a sense of being unwanted, unlikeable and unlovable

  • A feeling of being small, insignificant, and invisible

  • An overwhelming sense of betrayal, and a consequent inability and unwillingness to trust anyone, even those close to you

  • The person is by now obsessed with the situation (or rather, resolving the situation), cannot switch off, may be unable to sleep, and probably has nightmares, flashbacks and replays

These things either have affected in the past, or still do affect, me.  [This was written in 2006.]

Sometimes Always” by The Jesus and Mary Chain played often before, during, and after the second time Phil and I were together: A guy breaks up with his girlfriend.  He comes back, she refuses at first, then takes him back.

I liked to mentally sing along with the female singer when she said, “You went away; you can’t come back.”  When Phil came back to me, I identified with the line, “You went away, but now you’re back.”  I also liked the image of the groveling ex-boyfriend.

On the 29th, I wrote in the new Journal my friends and I started,

There’s also this emptiness, like a part of me is missing.  Especially when I’m alone and doing mechanical, everyday things.  “Meaningless, everything is meaningless.”  (Ecclesiastes)

It makes friends and (Mike will recognize this) “future hope” so important.  [I think “future hope” must have been a term from Intro to Christianity class, probably meaning Heaven, hope that things will get better.]  The emptiness starts to go away a little bit.

Maybe this is really a cry for help.  You guys’ll have to keep an eye on me.  I’ve found myself not caring how close the cars are on the drive[way]s, and it’s scaring me.

I’ve been through bad times before but gotten through them.  [namely, Peter and Shawn]  Things always get better.  But how long until they do?

…Someone who accused InterVarsity of being a clique [Dirk] also said that maybe I should pull away from it.  He couldn’t have been more wrong.

I need InterVarsity–an oasis of spirituality and learning how to get closer to God.  My faith is really being tested since a couple nights ago.

I feel like God told me one thing but the exact opposite is true.  Which can’t be, because God doesn’t lie.  He wants me to trust Him, even in all this when I can’t figure out what He’s doing or if He’s even doing anything.  I’m sure somebody should be able to relate.

For years, He’s been telling me time and time again, “Trust Me.”  Which is so hard to do, when it should be so easy to trust someone as trustworthy as God is.  That Psalm 13 really fits.

(For those of you who weren’t at Pearl’s Bible study last week, that’s what we studied.  David crying out to God in desperate circumstances, and finally saying that he knows God will help him.)

I saw a poster in Counselor Dude’s office that asked, If you couldn’t write, would you die?–In my case, I think so.  There’s just something about putting words on the page that makes life worthwhile for me.  Another reason why I think this journal is such a good idea.  Probably also a reason why I write such long letters!

Written October 2011:

After doing more research into abuse and narcissism, thanks to dealing with two narcissists who abused and maligned me in 2010, I now believe that Phil’s first breakup with me was not intended to be permanent.  

I believe it was actually his attempt to control me.  Because I wasn’t submissive enough, he wanted to force me to submit, to show me that the consequences of not submitting meant losing him–to break my spirit.

And it worked, for a time.  For the week he was back with me, I was afraid to do anything that would make him go away again.  I was very submissive, giving in to anything he wanted, no matter how baffling (going to Thailand for a year), outlandish or distasteful (oral sex, which he knew I hated, and he had not washed himself, so it smelled awful).

Even during the two weeks between the first breakup and week back together, I was submissive during our negotiations:

For example, he asked if I would object if he started smoking and drinking, and I said I would not.  During the negotiations, if I started saying or doing things he didn’t like, the rage wall went up again, and he would ditch me, go off and tell Dirk what I was doing wrong, etc.

During those two weeks, Dirk (Phil’s puppet) came to me and told me to distance myself from my friends.  So Phil was, once again, trying to control me by separating me from my friends, the ones who saw him for what he really was.  

And when we got back together but I “screwed up” by not “supporting” him as he bashed me to my friends, he left again.  It disgusts me to think of how submissive I was just to hold onto this controlling man.

(For more on the above-described situations, see here.)

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 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:

 

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