friends with benefits

Friendship, lust, doubt, Evangelicalism: response to Wondering Eagle

My friend Wondering Eagle just put up a blog post that covers a wide range of topics based on Evangelical culture, regarding friendship and loneliness and doubt and lust etc. etc.  I posted this in reply:

1) Years ago, songs like this one probably would have struck me as blasphemous, because of how Evangelicalism “trained” me:  Nowadays, after almost two decades of doubt and disillusion combined with stubborn refusal to give up on God, I can truly appreciate that Gary Numan is the Gothic Job.  (He’s an atheist, BTW.)  Every now and then, I get obsessed with this song; here we go again. 🙂  It helps a lot that Orthodoxy and Catholicism actually let you have doubts and the dark night of the soul.  In Evangelicalism, I felt like I wasn’t supposed to have doubts (“ye of little faith”) or question the moral values the elders passed down (“you just want to sin”).  And that made me harder on others than I should’ve been.

2) My church has usually been a fairly safe place, with both Republicans and Democrats.  I come back to church after getting vaccinated, and after church a newcomer is yelling at the church president and a couple others because everybody’s wearing “carnival masks.”  A few weeks ago, she wondered about a necklace I was wearing (I wear Gothy jewelry; this piece was based on Poe’s “Raven”) and said, “I thought, it couldn’t be Harry Potter!”  It’s put my spidey senses on alert: Is it a Trumper? Is she like the Evangelicals I used to go to church with?  Around that time, we’re told that TWO members of the board have submitted resignations, and I wonder what’s going on behind the scenes.

3) My narcissist ex-friend, at least according to the stories he told me and others, was once a promising up-and-coming preacher in Foursquare, packing churches.  Some TV celeb wanted to get him on TV.  Yet he told me that secretly, he didn’t believe any of it, and whenever he spoke in “tongues,” it was just a bunch of gibberish he made up.  Unlike the other preacher celebs, though, he finally got disgusted and walked away.

4) The messaging on lust doesn’t just destroy young men.  In college, I was in a friends-with-benefits “relationship” that never actually went “all the way.”  It was with an Evangelical; I was Fundie, influenced by Evangelicals.  For that reason, it was full of so much lust and guilt and blame that it almost destroyed me.  I had normal feelings and desires, which he did his best to stir up, but he made me feel like a slut who was driving him away from God.  And I thought demons were tempting me, and poured it out to my prayer partner.  I told the guy what was going on, hoping for his help–and he turned around and treated me like an evil temptress he had to avoid like the plague.

5) I was raised in the 80s, when nobody around me said opposite-sex friendships were somehow bad.  Both in the church and out, it was expected and normal that people, both single and married, would have whatever friends they like.  I didn’t encounter this part of purity culture until my friendship with that narc ex-friend in #3, during the naughts.  The wife was very controlling and believed it was her prerogative to tell him who to be friends with, whether male or female.  She decided I was a threat.

Apparently the purity culture affected Orthodoxy through converts, because I confided in some converts online and they treated me like *I* was the problem for wanting to have a close friendship with a man!  It shocked me.  For years I wrote about it on my website/blog, seeking out articles proving that I wasn’t some kind of deviant and that it isn’t right to tell your spouse who to be friends with.  And yes, I still maintain various friendships with men!  One is in my own church, which is mostly “cradle” Orthodox, and nobody has ever so much as given me a side-eye for being close friends with him.

In recent years I finally found out this attitude was coming from Evangelical purity culture.  Samantha Field, who is bisexual, would hear this and think, “Samantha, you can’t have any friends.”

Struggling to Trust Again After Being Discarded by Loved Ones

Going through my college memoirs for publication on this blog, and adding all sorts of things which I kept private before, has brought something very forceful to mind: the experience of being repeatedly thrown away with disgust by people whom I opened up to and loved in special ways:

1. Shawn: I loved him, opened up to him my deep dark secrets, wrote him long letters over the summertime hoping that revealing my innermost thoughts would inspire him to love me back.

But he kept using my body in various ways, constantly pushing me to do more with him, taking all he could get, then verbally and emotionally abusing me afterwards.

Then he finally tossed me away in disgust and refused to have anything more to do with me for some time, because our religious beliefs told us we were sinners for having sexual relations of any kind outside of marriage.

2. Phil: He got me to forget about Shawn and Peter.  He was the love of my life.  I told him my secrets; we secretly formed a spiritual marriage; we passionately desired each other.

Then he, too, tossed me away because I refused to let him break my spirit and make me an obedient wife who did everything he wanted no matter how painful, degrading or disgusting, and refused to let him verbally and emotionally abuse me without my fighting back.

3. Richard: Because we were both already married, this was friendship and platonic love, no sexual elements at all.  But it was a deep, emotional and intellectual connection: my spiritual mentor, my best platonic friend, a roommate for a time, so I told him very personal things, all my secrets.  Those secrets included details about my exes and religious struggles.  I trusted him and called him my brother.

Then his own dark secrets began coming to light: physical violence, manipulation, child abuse, vindictiveness.

After seeing with horror just how violent he could become with his own best friends over misunderstandings, because his wife forced him to do her bidding and abuse his own best friends (my husband, me, and at least one other friend), my husband and I broke off the friendship–only to receive no attempts at all from Richard to reconcile.

No apologies, just the expectation that all apologies and changed behavior would come from me and me alone.  And, a couple of years later, the beginning of a year-long campaign of intimidation and stalking which continues to this day.

They just don’t want to face the fact that we broke off the friendship not because of me doing anything “wrong,” but because my husband and I both see them as abusive, histrionic, deceptive and manipulative.

Once I got out of the FOG during the process of writing about this, it was much easier to trace the lies and manipulations and put them all together, to recognize how they tried to gaslight me from the very beginning and still tried as recently as last year.

For them to admit that their own actions led to the breakup, would shatter their delusions and make them admit they behaved badly and wrongly.

I feel once again discarded with disgust by someone to whom I had opened up and shared my life story and secrets, to whom I told all the musings which my introverted mind usually keeps locked up for its own use.

I am quiet, shy, introverted, and have NVLD/Asperger tendencies.  Making friends has never been easy, finding dates was never easy, and for many years I’ve lived far away from family and the people I grew up with.

So while I have made many good friends over the years, some of whom I still keep up with, I have been through many periods of loneliness.

Outgoing people tell shy people to just “be more social” and “talk to people” as if it were something everyone can just do and if you’re not doing it you’re just being stubborn.  That isn’t the case at all.

Introverted brains work differently in social situations than extroverted brains do, and if shy people could just flick a switch and stop being shy, then they would never be shy in the first place.

When I open up to someone, and especially if I love him/her in some way, it’s because that person makes me feel safe emotionally.  My quietness ends as I begin pouring out my innermost thoughts in long letters/e-mails to that person, whether it’s a lover or a friend, male or female.  In person, the two of us can talk for hours.

When that person turns around and discards me with disgust, I feel that something about me is deeply unlovable, that the innermost thoughts people say they want to hear, must be bad somehow.  Then the next time, it’s even harder to open myself up to someone else, for fear that it will happen again.  I grow even quieter, even more reserved.

Extroverts and outgoing people should take note that these things do happen, that maybe that shy/quiet person is still like that because opening up to others keeps leading to pain and heartache.

This is why it’s been even harder after Richard’s discard of me, to move on to a new best friend.  The more pain you get from opening up to people, the harder it is to open up to someone new.  But I have opened up to three new people in the last year and a half, who have not discarded me.  I think I can trust them.

I need to focus on the ones who have not discarded me: My husband knows me intimately in every way, yet has not discarded me after 18 years.

My best friends from college are still there for me.  Mike still loves to hear from me.  Sharon still loves to visit me.  Catherine made it very clear on July 4 that she still loves me.

Old friends are still very kind on Facebook even though we have lived in separate states for many years.  Friends nearby with whom I lost touch, are there for me again.

I need to realize that the ones who discarded me, are abusive and probably narcissists as well.  That it is not a reflection on me, and does not make me unlovable in the least.  I just need to be more careful whom I care about.

You will find that you have changed during the course of the relationship with a narcissist. You will walk away completely far removed from the beautiful woman you were when you entered it.

You may have gone from soft, sweet and feminine to hardened and bitter. From trusting, open and receptive to suspicious and untrusting. From self-assured and confident to being full of self-doubt and insecurities.

It will take some hard work on your part to let this damaged part of you go and find your old self again.


For most of us breaking up with a narcissist can leave us feeling confused, devastated, and untrusting of all men in the future.

Usually, when a relationship ends both parties grieve some, both parties have regrets and both parties have done things that they feel remorseful for.

But not a narcissist! He walks away from you with a cold, callous disregard. He feels nothing.

……A narcissist can turn from loving you to discarding you almost abruptly as it took for him to ‘idolize’ you after his first meeting you. Uh, what was that? About one date would you say?…….

Truth is, you didn’t exist to the narcissist. He is so totally and completely self-centered to the point of his being the only person in his life – ever.

You simply were a temporary ego-boost. A narcissist supplier (an enforcer and validation of his self-love). His mirror.

You were taken in by his phony charm simply because you trusted men. And now you are left with doubts, insecurities, questions, and extreme hurt that one you cared for could so easily ‘dismiss you’ and then walk away completely unmoved and untouched by the experience.

You want him to hurt, too. To show sorrow. To feel remorse.

So that you can feel important again. Like you mattered.

But you didn’t. And it has nothing to do with you. He simply is unable to care for anyone other than himself, no matter whom they are.

And deep inside you know that you have just wasted years of your life on someone who is an empty fraud. It’s like you imagined everything; nothing was real.

He was a masterful actor when he was getting his ego fed; but now that he is not getting his narcissistic supply from you anymore he simply – and completely – has totally erased you from his life.

It is important to remember that narcissists are ‘plotters’ and he has been plotting the destruction of the relationship since the very first moment his charming, but fake persona met you.

Expect your world to fall apart whereas his world will remain unscathed – as will his emotions. OOPS, pardon me, I made a mistake! Make that “his ‘lack of’ emotions”.

Narcissistic men haven’t any empathy for others, and will never take any direct responsibility for any pain they may have caused. They will never acknowledge their wrongdoings, or apologize to you, because they truly believe themselves to be perfect.

They project all their faults and flaws onto you, accusing you of the very things that they, themselves, are guilty of.

In fact, throughout your entire relationship, you probably were lead to believe that you were the problem when in actuality it was their narcissism that was at fault. You have subconsciously learned to take his attacks personally, because he is so very good at manipulating the people around him….

Yet, the narcissistic ex continually acts in abusive, bewildering and confusing ways. He is not above committing destructive acts. When the breakup becomes a reality, it is likely that his ‘false persona’ will completely disappear all together and you will most likely experience the most hurtful of behavior from him.

He is completely lacking in empathy, and – since he is not receiving any admiration from you anymore – he will dismiss you and discard you as worthless to him, consequently dropping any fake front that he use to put up in order to keep you in the relationship. –SexandMiami’s How falling in love with a narcissist has changed me forever

The above quoted post applies in various ways to all my ex-relationships with probable narcs, both boyfriends and friends.

The same goes for friends. A Narc likes friends that are shiny and new. That are entertaining or amusing.

That are reliable, even though he won’t be reliable when they call for him, or if he is, it’s because he is trying to keep them staying loyal to him, not because he cares about them, but because of the benefits they bring to his life.

Also, the Narcissist will immediately size up his friends as either capable or incapable of dominating. The Narc is always aware of whether he is in the dominant or submissive role in his relationships and friendships.

This is instinct to the Narcissist, who understands only power, not love or empathy. –Comment in thread How are narcissists with their friends?


Yeah, don’t go around thinking everyone’s a Narcissist just because they’re putting their needs and wants above yours. So much of Narcissism occurs in the Narc’s own mind that it’s hard to pick them out.

Some clues: do they live a transient lifestyle, move from place to place, or from job to job? Do they dump friends a lot?

Do they think very highly of themselves without an objective reason to do so (i.e., do they think they’re smarter or more attractive than they are, or do they pride themselves in whatever ability they really do have to an unhealthy, egotistical extent)?

Do they have trouble getting close to people? Do they seem controlling or manipulative? Do they have trouble with boundaries being set between them and other people? Do they fear intimacy?

Do they start a new relationship by building the other person up and acting like they’re perfect, only to tear them down over time and then dump them? Do they get offended when you criticize them for even minor reasons? –Comment in thread How are narcissists with their friends?

Yep.  These last two quotes apply.


Why post abuse stories? (Was: Wondering if my blog stalkers will read about Phil now….)

The story of my abusive ex Phil is just about to begin in my College Memoir posts.  There is some more yet about Shawn, but the psychological abuse and sexual using by him has ended….

I knew Shawn had sorely used and abused me, but I had seen nothing yet.  Phil’s manipulations hit a whole new level with the lies he wove, even more lies than Peter told.

I know Peter lied about things like his opinions on smoking, making me believe we were meant for each other, saying he wanted to marry me, then later casting me aside and denying it, complaining to everyone about my “marriage talk.”

I can’t tell for sure if Peter really believed it when he told me he set up a mental link when he hypnotized me, and all the special psychic abilities his ninja training gave him.  He could have been fooling me, as Shawn thought, but he also could have believed it, being the sort of person who believes in such things.

But Phil deliberately fooled and manipulated me, taking advantage of my gullibility.  He took my interest in psychic and psychological subjects and–practically from the beginning–began elaborate ruses which climaxed in the summer of 1994, having made me believe that he acted out his dreams.

He told me we were married before God, kept reassuring me when I doubted, but when he lost interest and no longer needed my parents’ hospitality, he quickly discarded me and said we were never truly married.

I’m no psychologist, but he was probably a narcissist.  Phil is the reason I first got interested in researching abuse, in the 90s, because it took me many years to recover from all he had done.

The reason to post these stories: It’s a public service.  All these stories–of Peter, of Shawn, of Phil, of Richard and Tracy–are not just about expressing myself or venting, but about warning and validating others.

I’ve long since been freed of those abusive relationships, but others could still be going through one much like it.  Abuse victims need to know they’re not alone, and that this is not normal treatment, so they can escape it.

Abusers try to make you think the abuse is your fault.  Shawn would coerce and try to convince me to do what he wanted, tell me there was nothing wrong with it–then after I did it, blame me for giving in, make me feel dirty and cheap, talk like I was seducing him.

Phil kept blaming me for his abuse, telling me I had to have my own way, always had to be right–because I did not want him to sodomize me.

Tracy abused and bullied me and tried to make me believe it was all my fault, that she had every right to do it and I had no right to complain.  Richard went along with it.

Not only that, but he even called me “ridiculous” for being psychologically affected when a couple of his friends began sexually harassing me online.  The harassment triggered feelings I had long since forgotten, brought them back up, alive, so that a year later I was still being triggered.

I had been sexually harassed by guys in high school, and sexually abused by Phil–and now Richard was calling me ridiculous for equating those incidents with what his friends said and did to me, for remembering those incidents because of what his friends did, and begging him to stop mentioning those guys around me so it would stop triggering me!

Abuse victims need help to get out of the gaslighting fog.

Reading stories and articles like the ones I post, and discovering the names for what I went through–emotional abuse, abuse by proxy, engineering impossible situations, sexual abuse, and the like–helped me realize it wasn’t me.

I used to say Phil was “borderline abusive,” because I thought abuse was physical–though I did write in a letter to him that he abused his authority as a husband.

But reading in women’s magazines in the mid-90s about emotional and verbal abuse, is when I realized he truly was abusive.  I now understood why it spooked me one day in 1995 or 1996 to think I heard his voice at my workplace, even though he had never hit me.  (I believe I actually heard the boss’ son.)

My husband’s observations on Phil’s behavior, helped me see that no, it wasn’t just me, he truly had mistreated me.  My husband is the first one who told me that even though Phil did not hit or beat me, he did things that could qualify as physical or sexual abuse (forcing me into disgusting things I did not want to do).

When you think about it, I was “rescued” by Phil himself: He decided I was not submissive enough, that I was the problem, and left.  But for a long time, I felt that his leaving was the ultimate form of abuse.

Though my friends told me he was controlling and possessive, my eyes were not fully opened until after I stopped grieving the relationship, met my husband, and started doing research and writing about what happened.

In those days, the Internet existed but in a much smaller form, and we did not have computers capable of using it beyond e-mail.  I had access to the Net my senior year through my roommate Pearl’s computer and a modem, but it was limited to AOL.

That was 1994; I had no idea just what the Net was capable of.  The explosion of websites and blogs on abuse had not yet happened.  We didn’t have Google.  After leaving college, I did not have a computer capable of doing much on the Net.  All I had were occasional magazine articles to open my eyes.

But now, you can search the Web for information and stories about abuse.  You can immediately identify what you’re going through.  You can learn how to leave safely.  You don’t have to wait years until you happen upon an article, book or TV program defining what happened to you.

Shawn Breaks Our Friendship and Departs; The Pump Blows Up; Learning Spanish–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–May 1993

The Pump Blows Up 

My pump poem, “5/7/93,” in one of the last Poetry packets, was written about something that actually happened that morning on campus.  You can read the basic details in the poem:

The pump blew up
Oh, shoot
Water’s off
At 8 A.M. to boot

Whole campus is out
Till the afternoon, we’re told
We hate it when this happens
Water becomes gold

Hope you took your shower
Before it all went off
If not, no one’ll notice–
Their own hair’s bad enough

Fix our pump for us
And on the lake’s sand
We’ll bow down and worship you
And the magic wrench in your hand

No, I don’t remember the exact time the water came back on.  I had taken my shower the night before, so I had good hair that morning.  Clarissa still had her bottled water for handwashing and brushing teeth.

Shawn Breaks Our Friendship and Departs 

Probably some time in May, when we all watched TV together in Krueger lounge, a news brief came on about a drug bust in Kenosha.  Pearl laughed in chagrin.  Apparently Kenosha was such a quiet town that such things were unheard-of.

My diary entry for 5/10 at 2:01am: “Something I just read in May 8th’s devotional [My Utmost for His Highest] made me realize, I don’t have to worry that I won’t ‘find someone.’  I just need to be patient and remember that the unforeseen often happens.”  And I was right about that.

On May 13, a speaker for InterVarsity, Pastor Don, brought his two college-age sons, cute Matt and cuter Dan.  I helped Pearl entertain them–a pleasant task.  A group of us spent a fun evening in the Pub, with the guys playing pool.

Eventually, Rush Limbaugh came on the Pub TV.  We sat there ripping on him, and Muskie Pat, who was working behind the bar, said, “If he says anything about femi-nazis, I’m gonna throw something at the screen.”

One of Don’s sons said, “The scary thing is, when you really listen to him, Rush is right.”  That didn’t mean he liked Rush or the terms he had for groups or people or any of that.

(Muskie Pat is what we called a cool guy who had been at Roanoke for years getting several degrees, and who worked in the Muskie all the years I knew him.  He made awesome burgers with toasted buns.)

Pastor Don spoke on relationships.  This clip from a letter I wrote to Shawn gives a sample of what he said, and how it affected me:

Sure I’d had some serious thoughts in the past few weeks of just giving it all up [the friendship] because of all the trouble I had dealing with you and I didn’t know if the relationship was healthy for me.

But I’d decided I just couldn’t: we’d been through so much together, confided so many things in each other.

And then the Thursday before, when the speaker came up from Racine to speak at the Bible study, he talked about relationships of all kinds.

Friends stay there for friends, he said, even when being around them is currently making you feel bad.

Whether the person’s depressed or depressing or just in a bad mood, a friend doesn’t go away, a friend stays right there with them.

I took that as an answer from God to my prayers for help in deciding.

Shawn came back maybe a week before the end of the semester, and said we could talk in a little while.  I expected a phone call at any time, and looked forward to it because, as a good friend, I was concerned about him and his brother.

I’d missed him; I wanted to spend time with him before he left, because I probably never would again, and I never liked saying good-bye to my best and closest friends.

But on Tuesday the 18th, Clarissa told me he didn’t want to associate with me.  That angered me, but I tried to keep it under control until I found out if it was all a misunderstanding on her part.

He came over once for a back massage (really? weren’t we giving that all up? we knew where they always led), but I just wasn’t up to it, because I had to find out why he was avoiding me when we were about to part company for good.  We sat at the picnic table beside the lake.

He told me that what Clarissa said was correct.  I felt sick at heart and totally puzzled.  He said we’d be going our separate ways, because of all the sexually intimate knowledge he now had of me.

So, after he had pushed so hard to get this knowledge, now I was to be punished because he had it?

He said he didn’t want me to think I had a boyfriend out there, and that he probably wouldn’t write back because of this, though I could write him.

My mind filled with all the things I could say, all at once, but the closest I could get to summing it all up was, “You can’t just let it go.”

I didn’t want to lose him as a friend, though I had accepted the loss of him as a lover.  So he said he would write back, but ultimately, he didn’t.

We talked about a lot of things that day, including the memories we now had of each other.  We walked around, sat in the cold and some rain, sat in the suite laundry room, went through the parking lot….

Our last conversation was much like our first on one of those first days of freshman orientation, when we also wandered from one place to another–like bookends of our relationship.

He said, “Let’s just put all that [physical stuff] behind us.  Do you regret what we did?”

I said yes, for most of it, though some I just didn’t regret.  But he seemed relieved.  I still had feelings for him, but I told him I just wanted friendship now, so we weren’t at odds over that.

On the 20th, Just before we all left for home for the summer, I called him, to say good-bye.

I asked why he felt it would be awkward to just stop over for a minute and say the one, last good-bye that meant so much to me, but he told me I shouldn’t be curious about it, that it’s his life.

I felt like, ask an innocent question and get accused of prying!  Didn’t I deserve some kind of explanation?

I didn’t know whether or not it had to do with me; I just wanted to say good-bye before he left Roanoke for good.  I was upset and bewildered.

I was about to say I didn’t want to say good-bye on a bad note, when I heard a click.  Clarissa was there as I hung up, I told her what was said, and sobbed my eyes out.

I had no idea that his brother had just died, because he didn’t tell me.  I would have understood.

In fact, I didn’t find out until Julie told me in a letter that I got close to July; they were both staying on campus.  Even then, I did not know when it happened.

I didn’t know he got the news right before I called, until December.  I never expected to see him again, since he was only at Roanoke for two years to take general studies courses before going to UW-Madison for engineering.  This was hardly the good-bye I had expected.

If only I had known, I would have understood.  Why didn’t he tell me?  Why would it take him 7 months to tell me?

I could have been there for him, given him a shoulder to cry on, been so good to him, comforted him.  I still loved him and would have wanted to be there through his suffering.

But he never gave me the chance.  Though I was told he seemed to be pushing everyone away.

Some things become clear after reviewing all the things that happened between Shawn and me:

He treated me like a prude for not wanting to watch sexy movies (which got my mind going on things I wasn’t supposed to do yet) or do the things he wanted to do. 

Then when, over time, I gave in and did the things he wanted, I turned into a “slut.”  Because I was now a “slut,” I was not worth even his friendship, because I put a wedge between him and God.

I was not supposed to have desires at all.  I was supposed to deflect his every move, be stronger than he was.  It was my fault.  I was shamed for having my own desires after all.

No wonder I was so frickin’ screwed up by the end of sophomore year.  I understand why people have trouble with Purity Culture.

I don’t think it’s the desire to save oneself for marriage that bothers critics.  I think it’s the shame we girls end up with, the feeling of being “ruined” if you “slip up,” the expectation that only sluts would want sex, that bothers critics.

Now, of course, it goes both ways.  If you are properly taught that purity applies to boys and not just girls, no double standard, then discovering your future husband is not a virgin, can be devastating.  We can forgive someone after they repent for stealing, but even if they look on past sexual experiences with the proper remorse and disgust, they’re still “sullied.”

It is the reason why I was so psychologically affected by things I did in college, why it was so hard to forgive myself, why I looked on past deeds with Shawn and Phil with horror for so long, why certain first names from my future husband’s past made me recoil for years just seeing them printed on a page.

I felt guilty just remembering these deeds with pleasure years later.  I felt guilty, like I was lying to myself, for deciding one day that what I did with Shawn, wasn’t so bad.  I was warned that past sexual experiences would haunt me when I married, but the memories weren’t so horrible after all.

…Back to 1993.  We went home on the 21st.

Learning Spanish 

My home church now had early morning services at 8:00 as well as the regular, 10:45 service.  My parents wanted to go to the early service, so I had to, as well.  After all, I didn’t have a car.

They thought these would be the most popular services, but they weren’t, and soon were dropped.  However, for the summer I had to endure them.

They were too early, and had too much singing.  It was weird to sing lyrics projected on a wall; I preferred to read them from a hymnbook.

Just before the end of the school year, the Campus Shop had sold used textbooks which were no longer going to be used for classes.  I took this opportunity to buy a Spanish textbook.  Now, I used the Spanish textbook to teach myself Spanish.

I used index cards and a pencil to make flash cards for the vocabulary words, and I think I would erase them and write new words on them.

I also used a slate and slate pencil which I had gotten at a South Bend museum when I was a child.  Just like the first ones I had bought, these were now broken.

When I got this slate, I also got another one, but it was now lost, so out of three slates and more than one slate pencil, I only had one of each left.

But they were useful for writing out the book’s exercises without using up a lot of paper.  We also had a computer disc with a Spanish drill program on it, and I used it sometimes.

The problem, however, was that I had no one to tell me how to pronounce the words properly, and had nothing but the textbook to guide me.

I don’t think the book even mentioned that the X was pronounced differently than in English, though I already knew Mexico was pronounced “MEH-ee-koh” (or a reasonable equivalent).

In general, I enjoyed my summer and its pleasant routines.  But every morning, at least after June, I agonized until the mail came.

I kept expecting a letter from Shawn: angry, apologetic, whatever, but something.  A letter never came, which made me even more upset.

In June I’d sent him a letter to try to resolve the issue of our last conversation and the lack of a proper good-bye, but nothing had happened to move it along.  I wanted closure, not this torture of waiting.

I wrote two letters to Shawn that summer.  I let each of them sit, waiting until I was sure it was the right thing to do and rightly worded.  The first one sat for a month before I mailed it in late June.  It said I was fighting for his friendship.  About the last one, sent on August 23, I wrote,

I wrote it late in the week, and for the next few days I kept hearing and reading things that said, Hurry, do it, send it, write it, do it now!

So I decided I’d send it by Monday, or else God might really be unhappy with me.

The messages were in songs, in my devotions [one devotional in My Utmost for His Highest even talked about sending that letter you want to send right away], and maybe other places.

So I thought, This can’t just be coincidence; this has got to be God talking to me!  I almost felt like my excuses for waiting were just excuses.

I wrote things like, “Please, I miss you.”  But I got no answer, and then Pearl told me (late in August) not to expect one because Shawn was just going to let things go.

I began to think about James again.  I wondered if I would go out with him junior year.  Getting back together with Peter was too uncertain to count on, and Shawn had now left RC as he had planned, so this was my one hope to find love again.  So I thought at the time.

I would listen to the downstairs stereo while washing dishes each afternoon.  I’d recently discovered Q101, a new alternative station from Chicago, and when the TV antenna was positioned just right, I could get it in quite well.

We had a powerful antenna with controls, to make up for losing cable, and it could be linked to the radio as well.

My mom now had an old trunk.  It had been passed down from mother to daughter for several generations, and now that Grandma C– had died, it had been passed to Mom.

It was full of mementos, pictures, trinkets, and tools from the past generations, including hat pins, straight razors, newspaper clippings, and a stereoscope with pictures.

I didn’t understand how to use the stereoscope, that you’re supposed to adjust it to get a three-dimensional image, but I did love slipping in and looking at the 1870s pictures of a relationship from courtship to marriage.

(I looked through this same trunk with Pearl and Sharon on the night before my wedding, finding amusing newspaper clippings, and my future husband, Cugan, would one day show me how to use the stereoscope.)

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:

Ending Friends-with-Benefits for Good–After One Last Time; I Meet Rick, My Admirer From Afar–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–April 1993, Part 1

I Meet Rick, My Admirer From Afar 

The reviewer in the 4/16 issue of The Mirror was right: “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” put on by Roanoke students from April 1 through 3, was a long, ponderous play.  Not even the sensuality of Maggie in a slip could make it flow any faster.

Coincidentally, one of the cable channels showed the movie, with Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman, at around the same time Roanoke put on the play.  So Clarissa and I taped the movie, and watched it after seeing the play.

(We noticed that the part about Brick’s best friend Skip being a possible homosexual was changed completely for the movie, and instead the controversy had something to do with football.)

The movie was also long and ponderous, something we could barely watch all the way through.  I think it took us more than one day to watch it.

This showed us that the drag of the play had nothing to do with the actors, since if even Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman couldn’t energize it, nobody could.  It was the play’s fault.

As for the Roanoke production, the people with the two lead roles–Ned and Melissa–had just recently broken up.

I found Cindy and a bunch of her high school friends, and sat with them.  I ended up sitting close to the right end, with Clarissa to my right and a guy on my left (who, by the way, liked it when Melissa wore only a slip.)

He wasn’t handsome; his face and the shape of his ears reminded me of a weasel.  But I guess I’m a sucker for a classy coat, especially when the wearer is a nut: His coat was long, stylish and black.

He looked at me when he first sat down beside me.  When they had to make room for a latecomer to the group, he said he didn’t want to get up.  He constantly looked in my direction.  Even with Melissa-in-a-slip onstage, he kept looking my way.

He was hyper and whispered comments to me during the play; I didn’t mind, because they were far more interesting.

During the first intermission, we both left for a break, but after we both sat down again, he tried to start up a conversation: where did I go to high school, etc.

During the second act, he started stroking my arm!  I froze in disbelief.  Some strange guy making the moves on me?  The blood must’ve all drained from my face and then rushed back into it.

During the second intermission, I decided to stay there and see what would happen.  He soon started up a conversation with me again, and asked,

“Do you have any boyfriends? girlfriends?”

I said, “No boyfriends.”

“No girlfriends?”

I looked at him strangely, which he took as a no, and I said, “I’m not that way.”

“Do you date?”

“Yeah, when I can.”

“Are you free next weekend?”

“That’s Easter.”

“Oh, right.  How about the weekend after that?”

After the last act, he went up to his friend Ralph Z. and said something to him.

Ralph looked at me, and said to him, “How’d you do that?”

“I don’t know,” the guy said.  “I should do cartwheels.”

The guy came back and we finally exchanged names; his name was Rick.  Cindy saw us talking.  Later, she asked me,

How do you know him?”

“I just met him,” I said.  “I must be a fast worker.”

“Oooh,” she said.

Cindy invited Clarissa and me to go with them to Rocky Rococo’s Pizza in S–.  I stayed with this group until about midnight or so.

Either Rick was on a huge sugar rush, or he was an incredibly hyper person.  He told me he wasn’t usually like that.

I felt like I was in shock, from the second intermission until I went to bed that night.  It had been a year and a half since this kind of thing had happened to me, and it was great.

The counselor had just said that a replacement would make it easier to forget Shawn, and here I accidentally found one possibility from another college (the S– tech school).

He’d asked for my extension number, said he’d remember it, and said he’d call to set up a date and time.  So when the phone rang at 2:30am, I thought it was him.

Instead, it was some guy named Pat looking for a girl in pink whom he met at the Zeta party that night.  I wore pink to the play, but never went to the party.  Somebody had given him the wrong number.  It was weird.

Possibly on the same night, I got another strange call:

I said, “Hello?”

Some guy said, “Who is this?”  The voice was not familiar.

I had heard that it’s unwise to answer such a question when a stranger calls, so I said, “Who is this?”  I mean, come on, it could have been a stalker or the obscene phone caller.

He said, “No, who is this?”

“Who is this?”

“Who is this?”

Somehow, we finally got past that and discovered he had the wrong number.


On Wednesday, April 7, Clarissa and I signed up for a room in Krueger Hall.  We decided to move there so we could be near Pearl, Sharon, Rachel, Cindy, Catherine and the others.  Then Pearl and Sharon signed up for the new Phi-Delt living suite in Hofer instead.  Dang it!


The 11th was Easter.  Clarissa and I spent the break the same as after Winterim, except Clarissa was invited to church by Wendy’s family (they discovered they were related).  They went to the little UCC church on the corner of an intersection near Roanoke, a landmark for us students.


This was my 4/12/93 diary entry for 11:45pm:

I think I see now: techno appeals to one side of me, and alternative and ‘beautiful’ music to the other.  Techno is deep and subconscious, and alternative is poetic and Romantic–especially with the Victorian way it seems to be obsessed with death.”

(Note that Romantic is capitalized: I didn’t mean romance, but the Romantic period of art, literature and music.)

In those days, you see, alternative was not just a different kind of guitar style or the vent for teen angst: It was often crafted with wonderful melodies and lyrics.  You could say it was New Wave mixed with alternative.

After discovering that some of my favorite bands from those days, and my favorite style of alternative music, were actually from the goth genre, I guess I was “goth” long before I heard of it.

For example: Peter Murphy, New Order, the Cure, and Siouxsie and the Banshees (which I got into in 1995 or 1996).  I just heard a Joy Division song which also fits right in with these bands, and they’re considered goth as well.


Ending Friends-with-Benefits for Good–After One Last Time

In the wee hours of 4/13/93, Shawn finally called and we settled things.  I told him how much he upset me, though I did so nicely, so he’d know and not think it was a little thing.

He said he had been trying to look at me in a positive light now.  He had noticed I was ignoring him, but really didn’t know why, until I told him.

I also told him about Rick, who still had not called to arrange our date, so I was worried he wouldn’t.

Shawn said he didn’t mean to give the impression I was a bad person when he gave me that list of faults.  He said that Pearl came to him after I talked to her, and talked to him about it.

He didn’t even recognize what she told him I said he said.  But I had changed absolutely nothing he said: I repeated it exactly as I heard him say it, and even said what he had told me to say to each person I asked about this stuff.

And it was quite likely that Pearl had gotten some things wrong, not me.  So I don’t know what was going on there, where the miscommunication came in.

I asked him for more reasons–other than just, I wanted it–why he was my friend.  He said I’m a good friend and loyal.  He also admitted that he couldn’t erase my pain from what he said.  He apologized for dumping on me, and said those were not big things and I’m not a terrible person.

In a letter written in August, Pearl wrote that:

I don’t know if he didn’t express himself the way he meant to, or if you didn’t hear what he was really trying to say, or what.

I did hear both sides, and I can see that the conversation was pretty much the same, but viewed from very different perspectives.  I don’t think either of you is lying, or either of you is to blame, but it’s just a big miscommunication.

I decided that now I could end my counseling sessions (there were only six free ones) without concern that I still needed them.  Shawn and I agreed to meet that day, but I made it clear that, after what I had just been through and after meeting Rick, I wanted nothing more than hugs and innocent massages.

I’m not sure what happened on the 13th, but my diary notes that Shawn and I met on Wednesday the 14th.

I considered 4/13 or 14 to be the breakup of our dating/friends with benefits relationship, and me to be the one who initiated it.  The physical relationship had to mean something, or else I wanted none of it.  

I was still expecting Rick’s call.  I didn’t know yet if Rick and I would start seeing each other, but I didn’t want to be with another guy while Rick sat at home thinking of me.

I didn’t record much of what happened, but on the 14th, Shawn tried to make moves on me yet again–kissing and other things–but I didn’t kiss back, and didn’t let him go far.  I just wasn’t into it.  I figured this new attitude came from counseling.

Around this time, he said what I had been thinking: that our impure relationship had distanced us both from God, so we had to give it up.

I was willing now, because I was tired of giving and giving affection and him never loving me back.  It seemed he only took from me, without trying very hard to get to know me, maybe not deliberately.

But it wasn’t until afterwards that I began to regain the ground I’d lost with God.  At times I wasn’t sure how much I really wanted to, but a spot inside me got me to try anyway.  I’d stopped listening to my Christian tapes; I started listening again.

I wrote in my diary,

I’ve been living with relationship-problems for over a year now, and finally, for once, my major problems are basically resolved:

Peter and I are on better terms than we were, my situation with Shawn and his words is going into recovery, and I’m pretty much to a point with Shawn where I can be content with just his friendship.

I’m even planning to ask him why in the world he doesn’t go fight for his old girlfriend, if he’s still so hung up on her, except I’m afraid I might encourage him to go back into a relationship he didn’t feel right about before.

Once, Clarissa told me somebody had called me but didn’t leave a name.  She didn’t think it was Rick.  She heard a printer in the background, and thought it was Counselor Dude.  She told him when to call back, so I waited.  He didn’t call.

On the 18th, when I still hadn’t heard anything, I got ticked off.  I had a right to expect a timely call, especially so I could plan for the date.

I went to see Cindy and try to find out what in the world was going on.  She said that, though Rick was a nice guy, he was a lot like Peter, into smoking and drinking and other such things.

She said, “He may have gotten back with his ex-girlfriend.  I don’t think he was the one who called you.”

Her suspicions were later confirmed: He stayed with that girlfriend, and ended up marrying her, is still married to her in 2012 (I friended him on Facebook this year).

But every time I saw him at Roanoke or parties, I caught him watching me.  Many years later, around 2010, he even asked Catherine how I was doing.  And we barely knew each other!

But back to April 1993.  What a disappointment!  Rick really seemed into me, too.  Shawn said he was inconsiderate for not calling to cancel or postpone or anything.

Then Shawn complained about me talking to him about some jerk who stood me up.  Um….What’s wrong with that?  It’s not like I’d been going on and on about it: This was the first time I mentioned it to him….Unless he was jealous?


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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