friendship

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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ijwj1xOLYY  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.”

Repost of “Losing Your Best Friend?–Or, Narcissistic Webs (Original Version)”

Excerpts from this post:

[Originally a Facebook note, meant to explain to my friends (including mutual ones with my abusers) why it was so hard for me to just forget Richard and move on.  It turned into a much larger blog post when I began adding more and more to the note.  At that time, my blog did not have the details of my story publicly posted, as it does now.  Written Tuesday, December 27, 2011.]

Some friends just drift in and out of your life.  Some hurt when they drift away, but you deal with it and move on.  Some may anger you so much that losing them doesn’t bother you.  Losing a friend is not easy in any case, but it’s far more difficult when it was that one extra-special friend, the kind that’s so rare.

All my life I had wanted the elusive bosom friend that Anne Shirley spoke of.  The friend who sticks with you for life, not a romance, not sex or marriage, which I already have, but a platonic friend.  Frodo/Sam.

….

It just seems impossible to replace him.  These were elements of our friendship which I found especially valuable and important, especially appealing, and these were the reasons I was so attached to his friendship…..

Where else am I to find someone like this?  I try to remind myself of all the violence, the self-seeking, the betrayal, yet I’m left with this gaping hole that it’s impossible to fill with anyone else, as if he were a car or a computer that can just be exchanged for something new and better.

And that, more than anything, is why I just have not been able to get over our friendship.

That’s why I still haven’t let go of the hope that one day, somehow, some way, he will repent and come back to my husband and me, ready to abandon the violence and arrogance that pushed Jeff and me away, ready to start anew.

That’s why I’m filled anew with grief every time I see him at church, he says not a word to me, and I feel I must avoid him, push him away, because of his violence and betrayal, because I can’t trust him.

….

And the most tragic thing is, I have no clue what happened.  The winter of 2009-2010, everything was fine between us all.  I don’t recall much bullying of me going on at that time, I was led to believe that the wife had long since stopped holding her inexplicable and irrational grudges against me, and everything was fine. 

But somehow, over the spring of 2010, for no reason I ever knew, they just both started being mean to me.

But as for him–I don’t know that I’ll ever get over what he did, unless he stops justifying his behavior and comes to me, and repents.  Forgive perhaps, eventually, but lose the hurt feelings?  Stop feeling betrayed by my best friend?  Stop wishing that he would do the right thing?  Probably never…..

Continue Reading: Losing Your Best Friend? Or, Narcissistic Webs (Original Version)

Life on TCB–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–February 1995, Part 1

Counselor Dude said when he gave me a grade in February that my working on the novel Jerisland since 1988 or 1989 showed persistence.  He said I had a good grasp of the mechanics of writing, and could become an editor if I wanted to.

****

Sometime early fall semester, Sharon saw two freshman guys put up a poster advertising the new Roanoke College BBS.  We were surprised, and checked it out.  Apparently we weren’t the only ones on campus getting connected to the wonderful world of the Internet and BBS‘s.

It wasn’t much, mostly a message board saying what classes were canceled and such, but it was still nice to have one.  It was a voice line, however, hooked up to the freshmen’s dorm room phone, so we could only call up at certain times of the day.

Every other college already seemed to have Internet access for students.  Roanoke didn’t have it until the next school year.  I’d watch the students on Beverly Hills: 90210 use the Internet on a school computer, and feel jealous.  We heard the access was supposed to be available senior year, but had to be pushed off until the next year–after I graduated.

Pearl had friends with e-mail addresses through school accounts, and now she could finally send them e-mail through our AOL accounts.  We got one account for all four of us with separate screen names.

But our favorite was The Crystal Barrier, or TCB, as I described here, because of all the fun we had with people who lived nearby:

The action words in Teleconference, or tele, were a lot of fun.  For example, if I typed, “slap stimpy,” Stimpy saw, “Nyssa Of Traken is slapping you!” but I saw, “…Wap!…Wap!…Wap!”

You could also do them to other people privately, like this: “kiss stimpy secretly.”  I saw, “Pucker up!” and Stimpy saw, “Nyssa Of Traken is kissing you on the cheek.”

More action words: “pave,” which said, “Crystal Dragon is driving a steamroller over everything, chanting, ‘The earth must be paved'”; “pkiss,” or “Nyssa Of Traken is kissing you passionately!”; “look,” or “Stimpy is looking at you,” which the user saw as, “Like what you see?” or “See something you like?”

“Look” was good for giving a funny look to someone who was acting very strange.  You could also just type “look” without directing it at anyone, and that showed up as, “Nyssa Of Traken is looking around the room.”

To direct an action at someone, all you needed were the first three letters of that person’s handle, or more if someone else online had the same first three letters.  You didn’t need to capitalize.

Sharon and I often spoke to each other and others offline as if we were in tele and using action words.  For example, I’d say to Sharon, “Nyssa is slapping you,” and we would laugh.

South Bend and S– BBS’s had different commands.  South Bend used dot commands.

Unlike with the South Bend area dot commands, which dealt with other functions on the BBS’s, on TCB you could use dot commands to send an action to someone who was logged into the BBS, but not in Teleconference or Farwest Trivia with you.  Example: “.kiss krafter.”

To look at someone’s registry, or a list of answers to personal questions, you typed “/r Krafter,” or went into the registry menu.  This registry asked for computer phone number, the name of your own BBS if you had one, your favorite food and movie and music and TV show, your least favorite show and music and movie, physical description, eye color, hair color, a short summary, etc.

You could answer each question however you wished: Some people typed “n/a,” or not applicable, to every question.  Speaker typed “.” after every question.  Some people gave answers that revealed them to be scary people, such as one guy who I believe called himself Nightstalker.

I either ignored the phone number questions or made up fake BBS names or spelled out fake numbers (“1800FUNWITHZARA,” for example).  My summary was often, “I long for the days when men were men, alternative was alternative, and mice were little furballs that squeak.”

Krafter liked this one.  I knew it was an adaptation of something I’d heard once (and I don’t mean the standard, “When men were men and women were women”), but I didn’t remember where.  Some time later, I discovered it came from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  My variation was my own, but the Hitchhiker’s version went:

In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were REAL men, women were REAL women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were REAL small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. —http://www.davekimble.org.au/humour/hitchhiker.quote.htm

We could also type taglines, which showed up next to a user’s handle whenever someone typed “/#” to call up a list of who was online at the time.  There was a default tagline, I forget exactly what; I generally had various taglines, depending on what I felt like putting there.

When someone was still logging in, the screen showed “login” in place of the handle, and “I couldn’t stay away!” as the tagline.  These were similar to the taglines on Pan-Optic Net.

I was Nyssa Of Traken, Sharon was Ziggy, and Pearl was Pearl.  My name, of course, came from my favorite handle from Indiana BBS’s, as I explain here.  Sharon loved Ziggy, and Pearl’s handle came from her nickname, so none of these names was a surprise.

Even Astrid went on TCB a few times, and called herself Tigger, fitting with her nickname, Boing Boing.

There, as in Internet chat rooms, normal punctuation and spelling rules went out the window.  In forums, people wrote normally (except for the occasional “4” for “for,” “u” for “you,” “c” for “see,” and other abbreviations).

But when chatting or playing in tele, you saw lots of ellipses and emoticons, and a lack of capitalization or punctuation.  Even I, whom Stubby once called the TCB spelling cop (I got better), was guilty of this.  It’s just quicker to write if you don’t have to worry about what your English teacher would think.

Sharon loved going online and being bombarded with “so and so is hugging you” from people all over the system.  I would go online, get such greetings, and type “.kiss Krafter” (which kissed him on the cheek) to greet him each time I saw him online.  Pearl was also popular.

The people online were so sociable and Sharon was so popular, in fact, that sometimes she went online and hoped no one would notice her so she wouldn’t have to answer their pages or return their hugs.  She tried to sneak on, check her e-mail and get back off again.

The problem, however, was that the system announced to everyone whenever someone came online, along with an entrance message, if one was set.  So it was hard to sneak on without being noticed, unless you figured out how to work the “invisible” function.

In my teens, the “cool” kids had never even heard of BBS’s.  (No, I was not one of the cool kids.)  Now, even the “cool” people joined the “geeks” online.

Other people liked to sign their names in various ways–all capitals, shortened handles, funny symbols–so I decided to use my own signature.  This is what I came up with:

}] Nyssa of Traken [{

For a short time, I changed my online summary nearly every day so that a different line of the first twelve lines to the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales–in Middle English–showed up.

When one of us was online, the other two often sat around the computer and watched.  Most often, we went into tele or Farwest Trivia (a multi-player trivia game).  There, the watchers would tell the one typing, “Page so-and-so and say this,” “Say this,” “Tell him Pearl says such-and-such,” etc.

When one of us was online, all three of us were generally online, even though only one of our screen names was logged in.  It was quite a party every night by the computer.

Oftentimes, people, such as Krafter or Speaker, sat in the menuing system (main menu), and just waited there for pages while doing something else.  Just like nowadays we do with, say, IRC, Facebook, or other instant messaging systems.

For me, the computer gave stiff competition to the TV.  Even though I wanted to see a new show named Sliders, Star Trek: DS9, and this new Star Trek show called Voyager, it was hard to pay attention because I was usually online while they were on.

I loved Sliders anyway, as did Charles, and we loved the various things that were different in each dimension the four sliders slid into.  One of my favorites had a dimension in which America had never broken from England.

(When Sci-Fi Channel picked up the show three seasons later, they ruined it, turning it into some action thing where favorite characters got killed off.)

As for the Star Trek shows, I couldn’t get into them.  After that year, I didn’t even try keeping up with them.  My love affair with the continuing Star Trek series had ended: There were just too many of them now.

For a short time, a guy called Atlantis sent me messages on TCB.  He played a game with me, a guessing game, with hints on who he was.  Then he disappeared before I could find out, upsetting me.

I heard somewhere that he was kicked off, maybe for a misunderstanding, but I don’t know if this was true.  Then Mike’s friend Brent finally admitted to being Atlantis.

Sometime during this period, Pearl’s sister came to visit and stay in the apartment for a day or two.  She saw my tapes and CD’s and went wild, because I had a lot of alternative, and the kids were really starting to get into alternative in those days.

She also went on TCB a few times as Squisha.  This name came from an inside joke between her and Pearl, a name one of them gave to a squirrel squished on the highway, Squisha Squirrel.  She had a lot of fun, and the other TCB users loved playing with her in Teleconference.

One day, I checked a user directory for one of the BBS’s.  The new user setup, or a series of questions each user needed to answer–what kind of computer and graphics you had, what password you wanted, your real name, address and phone number–included, of course, the question, “What handle would you like to use?”  The user directory listed all the users of the BBS by handle.  One person showed up as:

What do you mean “HANDLE

(No, no closing quote or question mark for “handle”; there wasn’t room; the handle could only be so long.)

Many teenagers hung out on TCB, and most of these seemed to love talking to Sharon, Pearl and me.  We felt popular.  Sharon said, “I think they think we’re cool because we’re three women living together.”

Though TCB wasn’t free, it wasn’t expensive, either: $5 a month got you five hours a day.

****

Sharon’s Sharon-isms included various expressions of disgust or dismay: “eww,” “ergh,” possibly “erckle” and “icky.”  We both used these online as well.  Another popular term among us roommies was, “Owie!  Owie!”  Sharon also sometimes said “cry” during a fake argument.

During second semester, it became common for my roommates to steal my seat whenever I got up from the couch.  I often ended up sitting in the armchair instead.

It was comfy, of course, so this wasn’t a problem, though sometimes I’d be in the chair while my roommies acted weird on the couch, joking and making weird noises and such.  I felt a bit left out.  But at least I had fun playing the straight woman.

Just as she did last semester, my old roommie Clarissa often came over to walk to dinner with me.  This, of course, was on nights when I didn’t end up eating mac and cheese or Spaghetti-os in front of the computer, while playing on TCB.  Now that we had our own kitchen and food, I could do this.

Tara and Pearl, having just seen Bugs Bunny’s A Hare Grows in Manhattan, began saying, “It’s a GY-raffe!  a GY-raffe!” instead, of course, of the usual “giraffe.”

My friends now watched Sesame Street every once in a while.  They thought there was nothing weird about this, that they had every right to if they wanted to no matter what their age, and that the show was cute.

Pearl’s sister liked Elmo.  (This was before the “Tickle-Me-Elmo” craze, which was in the fall of 1996.)

We noted that the same little African-American boy with an afro (probably John-John) had been on Sesame Street since we watched in the 70s, yet he was still there.

The show kept playing the same old clips even in the newer shows.  It was good, though, that the little kids wouldn’t miss out on some of the things we saw as kids, but wouldn’t they wonder why the kid’s hair looked so weird?

I never wondered about it as a kid, but that was in the 70s, and lots of people had hair like that.  (Of course, if Sesame Street still plays those clips of the afro boy, today’s kids probably think he looks normal.  Fashion is weird like that.)

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: