My apartment building was now dubbed the Morland House. The other was the Hill House. I loved Northanger Abbey (by Jane Austen), especially the movie. I would forever associate the name “Morland” with Catherine Morland, the heroine. So it was funny and fitting to live in a building named Morland.
Pearl asked to use my phone one day, since her phone was out of order for some reason, so she sat on my bed (the lower bunk), where the phone was. She told me later,
“I saw an Alice in Chains CD on top of a Sheila Walsh CD on your radio, and I thought, ‘That is so Nyssa!'” She laughed.
(In case you don’t know, Sheila Walsh is a sweet, contemporary Christian music singer, once a rocker but now much more mellow. It might have been the Dirt or Facelift Alice in Chains CD, and Sheila’s For A Time Like This, which is mellow but not too mellow.)
That night, I found another saying to use as Dolphin Philosophy. It was taken from that wonderful show, My So-Called Life, and said by Brian: “How much more ironic can you get without vomiting?”
The following happened on Thursday, November 10, in the morning during the time I usually had Intro to Psych, since on that date I have a note in my day planner saying class would be in room 100. This was the room I had for Botany junior year, and for entrance exams back in the spring of 1991. In this room on the 10th, several classes filed in and a speaker told them about date rape.
He told us that if one person is drunk and someone has sex with them, it’s now considered rape because the alcohol impairs your reasoning abilities.
Among sober people, it’s also rape if she says no, if she feels it’s a rape, when he uses false pretenses or manipulation or guilt trips to get her to consent, or when she never actually says “yes.” He gave examples of what he meant.
I don’t think he meant to stir up paranoia, but to make guys aware that they need to be careful what they do, and to help young college women realize they don’t have to be treated this way.
Soon after, I asked Pearl into my room, and we sat on my bed. I told her this speaker’s examples and words made me realize that sometimes John did rape me:
There was the time we were having sex, and then he suddenly withdrew and tried to stick it in my anus, even though I begged him not to. This was when he got upset because I said rape was grounds for divorce. (I probably didn’t tell Pearl these details.)
He used begging, pleading, manipulation, guilt-trips and false pretenses as well, like with the “subconscious” thing and snipping “You always get your way” when I didn’t want to do it anally or orally.
(I’d heard about a guy who fought at the Alamo who’d pretend to marry a girl just to get her into bed; I now knew that would be rape.)
I didn’t even know yet that the time we got back together was just so he could get sex from me; that would be rape.
Pearl prayed with me, and said, “If you do get back together, you’ll have to deal with that first.”
We also talked about whether or not I should press charges, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to pull this into a court. Still, knowing I could if I wanted to, made me feel powerful.
I didn’t want my parents to know what was going on, though. I didn’t want the details of our relationship being made so public. I may also have feared that the judge would throw it out of court, just because I consented to have sex with Phil. I wasn’t sure what to call it, but it did feel like rape for the reasons I gave above. Phil had violated my trust as well.
I remember Phil and I talking over an episode of “Picket Fences” in which the judge threw a rape case out of court. The judge said it didn’t count just because the guy got the woman liquored up so she’d consent.
I think Phil and I disagreed over this part. I don’t remember if we were talking about rape in general and he brought up this episode, or if we were talking about the episode itself. But according to the speaker, yes, it would be considered rape, both because she was liquored up and because she felt like she’d been raped.
Recently (it’s January 1999) a guy called up MTV’s Loveline and said that he got drunk at a party, so drunk he couldn’t remember anything. Then a girl told him they’d had sex and she was now pregnant. He said, “I think I was raped.”
This also related to a “Picket Fences” episode, in which the annoying lawyer Wambaugh said a raped man’s member was, after all, “at attention” when it happened. But I believe a doctor said he could’ve been erect due to fear, not attraction.
On Loveline, they wondered if the guy could have been able to hold an erection while drunk long enough to ejaculate, but it’s also been said that all you need is one little sperm, and some of them are released even before ejaculation. That’s one reason why the “withdrawal” method of birth control doesn’t work.
Apparently the caller wondered if he could have had sex with this girl while drunk, and if what she said was true, then because he was drunk it was rape.
[Written 4/25/14:] This shows how confusing this issue got in the 90s. I know I felt used by Phil, and he did sexually assault me once. But whether or not it’s actually “rape” to manipulate someone into sex–I don’t know.
Then right after this conversation with Pearl, Phil sat with someone else at lunch, but back with Persephone (and my group) at dinner. I was angry, because I had told him in the letter to stay away from me.
Once I got up to take my tray up and go to the bathroom, just to get away from him. Pearl said his eyes kept straying to me, which he didn’t do before today.
Persephone left, but he stayed–making Pearl and me both fear he’d confront me right there at the table. He sat there a few moments, head down, fists on his temples, said something to Charles, then finally got up and left.
The school play, Measure for Measure, ran from November 10-12 at 8pm each night. I didn’t go to the first showing. A guy in one of my classes said he went to the opening night performance, but the acting was bad and the words were all muted and unintelligible. He couldn’t tell what was going on.
Pearl and I went to the play on Friday the 11th. It was weird to see Phil in it, playing the role of Vincentio, Duke of Vienna. I tried to remember that other people I knew and liked were in the play. One of these days I’ll have to read the play and find out what happened, since that guy in class was right. Even Phil didn’t sound convincing.
I dreaded having to sit and watch this guy I’d been trying to avoid and ignore. He even had the lead role, so I had to see him most often. During an intermission, I heard a girl near the bathroom say “Phil O’Hara” with a smile. I think she was a freshman. I cringed, wondering if she had a thing for him.
I wondered if he even knew I was there, if he could see me in the audience. I suspected he could, but I’d also heard somewhere that with the lights off you can’t see the audience that well. Later, I admitted to Pearl that while watching I discovered I did still love him, after all.
Usually, the actors and actresses in each play would come out in the lobby so you could congratulate them on their performances. After Lucky Spot, Pearl and I had stopped to congratulate Phil. This time, I don’t remember if we stopped to talk to our friends in the play, which we might have done, but we said not a word to Phil.
Sharon and I went on many walks that fall through the woods and down by the lake together. We talked about many things, such as childhood games and friends.
We spotted the covered Friendship Bridge, which had been partially destroyed when a tree fell on it. It later collapsed. This might have happened in a storm. The tree was still there when we saw it. The school knew about this, and the Zetas were to build a new one.
I believe this was also the first time I ever saw the Friendship Bridge. I know I saw this in the fall of 1994–though a Mirror issue says the Zetas built a new bridge in the summer of 1994–so they must have left the old one the way it was.
I discovered that Sharon agreed with me on people banging on the bathroom door, like Dave’s fiancée did to me. Things don’t always move along for me like they should, or it comes continuously for a long time; one day, Tara came along, banged on the bathroom door, scared me half to death, and yelled, “Would you hurry up in there!”
Why didn’t she just lightly knock and politely ask, “Are you going to be in there much longer?” I wasn’t in there for my own amusement. I was so ticked. And I later found that Sharon agreed with me: She called that “intimidation” and dysfunctional behavior.
Thus was cemented a lifelong friendship. We still see each other now and then, though we’re in two different cities.
I wasn’t attracted to Mike when I first met him, back when I was in love with Shawn. But now, he was so cute and sweet and moral, and I wanted to date him so bad. I dreamed of being with him, and wondered what it would be like to be a pastor’s wife.
I’d always admired spiritual people, like pastors and missionaries, and thought it would be cool to be married to one (unlike my mom, who protested back when Dad started studying for the ministry because she’d never wanted to be a pastor’s wife).
I also saw them on TV and movies, and wanted a man like them (for example, How Green Was My Valley and an episode of The Campbells in which the Campbell girl thinks a traveling, young pastor wants to marry her).
Back when I had a crush on Phil junior year, I also had a crush on Mike. I couldn’t decide which one I wanted most. They both showed signs of possibly liking me back, though Phil’s were stronger.
I can remember walking next to Mike in the parking lot at the Susan Ashton concert, feeling like I belonged there. At the same concert, as Susan told us all about her pastor-husband, I thought how cool it would be to marry Mike and have my own pastor-husband. At that point, my crush on Mike was stronger than the one on Phil.
As Dad drove me home from Roanoke at the beginning of Thanksgiving Break, I thought of both of them as we rode through the darkness. Finally, there was someone besides Shawn or Peter for me to dream of, someone I might actually get to date. Not some elusive dream, like James, whom I’d also tried asking out.
But by December, a lack of signs from Mike and an abundance of signs from Phil, plus Phil’s physical appearance and oddness and Christian beliefs and apparent niceness, tipped the scale in Phil’s favor.
(Mike’s niceness was real, but not Phil’s, but I didn’t know that yet.)
You know what happened next.
Around that time I heard some guy call “Nyssa” from an upper library window as I passed, but I couldn’t see who it was. I always wondered if it was Phil, but he insisted it wasn’t him. I even asked his “subconscious,” who said it wasn’t him but he wished it was.
I wonder now what it would’ve been like if I’d asked Mike out instead of Phil. I was afraid to ask Mike out senior year because at the beginning of the year he told Pearl, “I know she likes me, and I don’t know what to do about it.” Phil had told him, as I mentioned before. But I kept hoping he’d change his mind and decide he wanted to be with me.
I kept trying to attract his notice by dressing well (he said he liked this in a girl), taking off my glasses in his presence to clean them and show him what my face really looked like, talking with him about Intro to Christianity, things like that.
Once or twice I had to pass him in the apartment hall in a T-shirt nightgown and my robe, which was hot pink and really nice-looking. I wondered if this would stir any passion in him.
Yet he never made a move, and I wondered if it was futile. But I have to give him credit: He was nice to me, but without leading me on. Some guys will be mean to you. I also never “threw” myself at him, so he had nothing to rebuff.
Those brown Dodge Caravans were everywhere that fall! Phil’s model was very popular. (They were popular in 1993 and 1994, but Phil’s was from around 1984, which confuses me now because how could a 10-year-old van be suddenly popular?)
I used to like it, and there was another one on my street that past summer, which we thought was funny. We always had to check the license plate in a parking lot because it was easy to get confused.
Now, they reminded me of Phil, which I did not want. One of the other students, a female non-trad, also owned one. So I saw them a lot, and always had to check the license plate or the driver to see if it was his.
Even worse, Phil kept parking his minivan in the lot next to my apartment building, in view of my window. I knew he was probably either in Muehlmeier seeing Persephone (doing who knew what) or in my own apartment building seeing Dirk.
Did he park there deliberately so I’d know he was there? He wasn’t supposed to park there, but by Grossheusch, according to campus rules. I kept hoping he’d get a ticket. He rarely parked by Grossheusch.
Was he trying to upset me? He knew I lived there. He knew I had to walk right by the parking lot to get anywhere on campus. And he usually parked right next to the sidewalk. It was all I could do to restrain myself from kicking the tires. But I forced myself to restrain, because I knew it was right.
On the 12th, I wrote this to friends:
I also want to say I’m feeling happier now than I have for a while. And the day after I wrote in the journal about this hate and anger I didn’t know how to deal with, I had to re-shelve some books in the religion section of the library.
I had several spiritual questions, and started looking over the titles to see if there was a book that could help me. And there was a little white paperback called Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts you Don’t Deserve. So I snatched it up and checked it out at the desk.
It’s been quite helpful, and even though I still think what’s-their-name is an idiot and a jerk, it seems my hatred has lost some of its intensity. The problem is that I keep wanting to hang onto it, but the book says, hatred’s power is short-lived. It may give you power, but it won’t last as long as the power forgiveness gives you.
The book also told me to confront the person who’s hurt me, and tell them just what they’ve done to me. I did just that in a letter, and I feel so much better now because of it.
They had been going on their merry way like they didn’t know the damage they left in their wake, but a day or two after they got the letter, I could tell they now had a better concept of what they’d done. I now pray that God will convict this person, because He’s the only one who can.
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)
Table of Contents
December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?
April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign
October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:
Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams
June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:
July & August 1994: