Category: marriage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So–

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

–was horrible?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After he left, I broke down and cried.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

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Phil vanishes without a word of why–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 4

That night, Phil still hadn’t shown up, so Pearl and I went to the semi-formal Opening Banquet in Bossard together.  I don’t remember why nobody else in our group went, but I do believe Pearl wanted me along for company.  There was a speaker, Bob Hall; his talk was called “Hands Off!  Let’s Talk,” and the subject was dating and sex.

At the beginning, I said to Pearl, “I guess I don’t really need to listen, since I’m engaged.”  (And married, I thought.)

Hall said to the guys in the cafeteria, “If she says no, let me introduce you to Mr. Hand!”  And later, in an unrelated comment, “Guys, she always knows where that hand is!”  Pearl went, “Mm-HMMM!”

Later that night, with still no sign of Phil, Pearl and I sat alone in the living room, talking.  I told her Phil had been building up muscles from working at the factory.

She said, “Sounds like lust to me!”

I said with a smile, “I’m going to marry him–I can lust after him!”

But sometime later in the conversation, I told her, “I’ve been losing some respect for Phil, but hopefully now that we’re living apart I’ll be able to build it back up again.”

She said, “That doesn’t sound good.  Maybe you two should try dating other people for a while.”

I said, “Well, I don’t want to see him with anyone else, and I know he doesn’t want to see me with anyone else.”  Not only that, but you’re not supposed to date other people while you’re married.

****

We put the new, blue, all-cushioned couch along the wall in the nook by the inside wall, the chairs around the TV, and the stereo in the nook as well.  Then the dining table went under the light in the more open, middle area.

And little metallic bears went all over the table and here and there in the carpet, Astrid-confetti from a party I missed on Sunday.  (Astrid loved to send us letters with confetti or little bears in them.  You learned to be careful opening her letters, or the confetti would get all over the floor.)  For the rest of the year, we kept finding these bears here and there, even when we thought we’d cleaned them all up.

We had a stove, fridge, many shelves and drawers divided among us (one each of each kind of drawer or shelf), a sink (with no stopper), and even pots and pans given us by the school.  Mom gave me an old dish drainer, which we needed.

The glass doors with their Venetian blinds were over by the dining table, and two other windows with Venetian blinds were along that wall. One of these windows was in the kitchen, the other in the living room.

There were bookshelves in the open area, opposite the glass doors.  My bird sat on the top shelf, where it seemed a porcelain bird should be, to watch over everything.  We put videos, tapes, CD’s and books on these shelves.  We each had one or two shelves, and it was understood that anything on the shelves could be used by anyone.

On the other side of the apartment, opposite the bathroom, were the two bedrooms.  First was my room with Sharon.  We bunked the beds because they didn’t fit side by side.  They were already bunked when I arrived, though at the end of the year I was told they were originally side by side.

We moved around the furniture in the rooms because the original arrangements, as usual, didn’t work either.  Now we had the beds under the window.  Sharon slept on the top bunk.

We each had a wire storage rack, and I put mine beside the bed.  Our closets were a little small, but they had shelves, and with the many storage racks provided for us, we found places to put everything.

So the room, though tiny, didn’t seem crowded, but rather neat and tidy.  (The living room was often messy, however, because we often left papers and textbooks lying around.)  These racks were like a stack of drawers, because you could pull them out to remove your stuff and then push them back again.

Pearl and Tara had their room (with its answering machine) next to ours.

We liked the bathtub, but not the glass door.  We started thinking of ways to cover up the door so no one could see us bathing, and may have even requested a curtain, which we never got.  The glass door should have been on the shower, and the shower curtain should have been on the bathtub.  The shower, after all, was in a separate room with a door.

Also, there would have been more room to pull the shower curtain wide open, and we probably wouldn’t have had quite so many mildew problems with it.  It had to be replaced halfway through the year.  So we never actually used the tub, except to store boxes, and it got really dirty by the end of the year.

****

Probably on Tuesday or Wednesday, I turned on my radio to change it from South Bend’s U93 to Green Bay’s WIXX.  Lo and behold, there was U93!  This happened only once that I know of.

I listened to U93 for a while.  Someone called in from Milwaukee and said, “I used to listen to U93 in South Bend.  I flipped on the radio here in Milwaukee and found it!”  If I knew U93’s number, I would have called and said the broadcast was traveling even farther than that.

Once over the summer, WIXX had come in on the house antenna.  Phil said they boosted their power, so that may be why it came in so far away.  However, I didn’t want to hear WIXX: it was on the same frequency as Q101.  I never heard WIXX in South Bend before or since that day.

Also, that same week I discovered Hot 102 had changed to an alternative format, which made the necessary break from Q101 much easier.

****

My first class of the year was at 9:15 in the morning, American Lit with Dr. Nelson, the teacher from New York.  He’d been there only a year, and soon after I graduated, he would move back to New York.  Yes, another American Lit class.  This was probably American Lit I, and the previous class American Lit II, because this one focused on an earlier period.

As I’ve noted before, Nelson, with his funny, New York accent, pronounced “illustrate” as “ill-yoo-strate.”  Whenever Phil imitated his accent, he always included “ill-yoo-strate.”

One day in September, Nelson said “ill-uh-strate,” like we say it in the Midwest, then stopped and corrected himself, saying, “ill-yoo-strate.”  I don’t know if anybody else noticed, but I found it funny.

While working in the library on Wednesday, I found some German dictionaries, some old and some new, and spent my time at the circulation desk looking up the words from “Undine” that I hadn’t been able to find.  Many of them were there.  There were still many words I couldn’t find, but they were much fewer now.  As soon as I saw Phil again that day, I gushed and exulted about it.

People kept seeing my bird, sitting up on the very top shelf of the bookshelf in the living room and looking out over us all, and they said how pretty it was.  Then I got to tell them it was my engagement ring until Phil finally bought me a real one.

(How disappointing that I didn’t already have one, since his mom took all his summer money for car payments!)

Somebody who parked in the apartment parking lot had a white Ford Bronco.  It was weird and funny because that was the same kind of truck in which OJ fled the cops.  Whenever Phil and I passed it, we’d say, “No!  Not OJ!  OJ’s here!”

In a similar vein, one day during the summer, Mom wrote “OJ,” or orange juice, on the pad of paper she kept on the kitchen counter.  Phil wrote next to it, “No OJ!”–meaning, no more OJ news.  Just think, we were already sick of it, and that was only the beginning of the news saturation.

****

Apparently Phil met me at the library, or soon after I left it, and we must have gone over to Krueger lounge.  We spent some time there, sitting with Dirk, a freshman named Sandy, and an elderly woman.  She had come to teach at Roanoke for half a year.  She lived in Krueger, since she was only staying in the area for a short time.  She had a southern accent and was very friendly.

Sandy was a freshman who lived in Krueger but eventually moved into Dirk’s campus apartment.  That sort of thing happened sometimes, though it wasn’t supposed to.  I don’t know how they got away with it.  Sandy was a dark-haired, pretty girl with glasses.

Phil and I were both confused about Dirk and Sandy.  We both thought they were dating, until Dirk told Phil they weren’t: Sandy was his friend’s girlfriend.  (Dirk later told me they finally realized they liked each other, and started going out; this hadn’t happened yet on Wednesday.)

But they certainly acted like they were going out!  He would slap her backside, they would make suggestive comments to each other–this was no platonic friendship!

They got engaged either that school year or the next.  Then in 1996 or 1997, I’m told, Sandy broke the engagement, complaining about how Dirk treated her.  Then she wanted him back, but he had a new girlfriend, whom he eventually married.  How could an obnoxious, plain know-it-all like Dirk keep getting girlfriends, while I had trouble getting dates?

****

You’ll remember that Phil vanished for an entire day, without a word to me of when he’d come again.  He never called.

I expected him at any time, and he knew I needed milk and orange juice for breakfast.  I had no idea where he was or why he never showed up.  I had to borrow milk and orange juice for breakfast the next morning.

Now that Phil was finally back, I complained, rightly so.  But instead of apologizing or explaining, he just said that one of my friends could have taken me for milk and orange juice.

Say what?  He took the passive-aggressive route by vanishing without a word, instead of coming out and saying he couldn’t/wouldn’t do it?

After we got back from getting the milk and orange juice, before I got out of the van I said,

“I love you and I want to marry you legally, so why do I have such doubts?”

Once, junior year, Phil said that if either of us were ever attracted to someone else, we should say so.  That way, if we were to break up because someone else came along, it wouldn’t be a shock to the “dumpee.”

He lived out this rule, constantly telling me who he was attracted to, even telling me he wanted three wives–and who they would be.  One was his own brother’s fiancée.

Well, after several days of Phil disappearing for long periods of time–even a whole day–without telling me when he’d come back, I wanted him to be around more.  When you’ve been married to a guy all summer and he suddenly vanishes, you feel like a part of you is missing.

Phil’s treatment of me all summer, and especially now, inspired the doubts.  I may also have subconsciously wanted to get back at him for a summer of telling me he wanted all those other women.

So I told him my fears.  I told him I was getting a crush on Mike.  I tried to reassure Phil I still loved him, though.

I had a crush on Mike junior year, before dating Phil.  I was attracted to his integrity.

He wouldn’t drink underage or smoke anything that was passed around at a party.  He didn’t make everything into a raunchy joke (just some things).  He was sweet.  He wouldn’t play tricks on his girlfriend.  He didn’t seem capable of making a woman feel like crap.

(In 2005, from e-mails and forum posts, I learned that he believed in total equality in marriage.  Also, from Facebook I see that he’s a loving, devoted husband.)

Phil left me with a choice.  We were both very sad.  He said to talk to Mike, and if he felt the same, I could leave with his blessings.  He didn’t want to see it, but he wouldn’t stand in my way.

I cried afterwards and decided I couldn’t leave him: I didn’t have the heart.  I loved Phil, and had only a tiny, insignificant crush on Mike.  Also, leaving a marriage wasn’t that simple.  So I said nothing to Mike.

I didn’t see much of Phil after that.

Also note that when Phil found other people attractive and wanted to include them in his harem, the relationship was not over.

But as soon as I found someone else attractive–boom, the relationship is over and he’ll let me go with his blessing.

So it’s only a crisis and insult if I find someone else attractive, but not if he does, not even if he wants three wives?

****

He claimed my friends kept dissing him; I saw none of this.  He claimed their body language showed it; I saw nothing but friends smiling at him and acting normally.

On Thursday, September 8, he gave me no word of when he would next come to see me.  So I made plans with my roommies.

My roommies and I were getting ready to watch My So-Called Life, and had friends over to join us, a kind of party.  I couldn’t wait to see it, and was excited to watch it with all these friends.

But then Phil suddenly dropped in and said he wanted to talk.  I thought it was about Mike and that I would soon turn away his fears, tell him I wanted him and only him and couldn’t bear to go to Mike.

It was very bad timing on his part, which he should have respected, and I figured it wasn’t so pressing that it couldn’t wait one hour.  After all, he gave me no clue when I would next see him, yet expected me to just drop everything and change my plans when he came over?

Not only was this unreasonable, but my NVLD made me resist changing plans on the spur of the moment like that.

But I did not yet know that he had this unreasonable and controlling attitude about it, that he expected me to submit to his every whim no matter how inconvenient.  I smiled and asked him to sit down and watch with me and see what this wonderful show was like, and afterwards we could talk.

I don’t remember how many people were there, but there wasn’t much room around the TV in that little nook.  All the chairs were taken, so someone suggested he sit on a cushioned milk crate, which my roommies and I often used as a chair or footrest.    He soon went down the hall instead of sitting down.

I thought he’d gone to the bathroom, so thought nothing of it.  My friends and I watched the show.

He took an awfully long time, so I wondered if he had diarrhea or something.  I eventually went to look for him in the bathroom or my room, but he wasn’t there.

He’d left without a word, and never came back the whole night!  Pearl and I both thought that was extremely odd, wondering where the heck he’d gone to, and why.

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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I’m ecstatic to be back with my friends (the ones Phil hates); I meet Charles–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 3

On Monday, it was finally time to move my stuff into the new apartment on campus.  After I got my key card, Phil and I started unloading the minivan.

The doors were supposed to stay shut even while people moved things in or out of the building, and were not to be propped open (all the residence halls had signs posted saying this).  Since the doors had automatic locks, I was forced to unlock the door each time we brought something in.

So, naturally, I would go on ahead with whatever I carried, and try to unlock the door before Phil got to it.

But he actually snapped at me for not waiting for him before going to the door!

I said, “I have to go before you do so I can open the door with the key before you get to it!”

But he wouldn’t listen to reason.  I seethed inside.  It seemed no matter what I did or didn’t do, in his mind it was just cause to yell at me, even for being considerate and practical!

Sheesh, what a jerk.

But other than that, it was fun to see my friends again and hear their jokes as we went in and out of the apartment.  Mike was there, being his usual muppet self: bouncy, goofy, weird, loud, childlike, sweet, outgoing, hilarious.

(He danced like a muppet, and “muppet” just seemed to fit him in general.  Still does, 20 years later, especially since he loves posting muppet videos on Facebook.)

After we finished moving my stuff into my room and the living room (my room was too small to hold all the boxes), Phil may have left again for a little while.

Dirk lived in the same apartment building.  At one point, Phil and I walked away from the apartment, possibly going to the Campus Center.  Dirk yelled to us from his basement window.  (These windows were on the upper part of the lower-level bedroom walls; once you found something to stand on, or if you were on an upper bunk, they easily cranked open).

Phil talked to him through the window, and Dirk was surprised that I now had a fourth-level bard in Dungeons and Dragons (D&D).

I spent some time with my roommies and Mike.  We discovered the vents in the bedrooms were good sound conductors.  You could hear practically everything from the upstairs apartment.  Mike yelled up the vent to our upstairs neighbors, who were Phi-Delts we knew, and they yelled back.

We thought these vents could be a problem, because how much of our everyday lives and conversations would our upstairs neighbors be able to hear?  I don’t know if they even noticed, but I was often paranoid about this during the year.  And I think that, in my room, we did sometimes hear voices from their apartment.

It would be fun living there with my new roommies: Tara, Sharon and Pearl.  (We called each other roommies no matter who shared a bedroom with whom.)  I was happy to be back and with my friends again.

Phil and I had once spoken of marrying halfway through the year and then living in our own apartment on campus, since he heard they were supposed to be for married as well as regular students.  When my roommies-to-be and I looked at the apartment the year before while it was being built, I thought I would live with them for only part of the year.

But now, I wanted to spend the whole year enjoying life with my friends.

My roommie-roommie was Sharon; my roommies in the other bedroom were Pearl and Tara.

The visiting custom of the apartments was the same as for the suites: Anybody, anytime.  The only rules that applied were the ones your apartment-mates agreed on.

One rule we eventually made was that if someone wanted to let a friend/boyfriend stay overnight, she had to ask everyone else for an OK.  The friend would sleep on the couch and not with one of us, but it made people uncomfortable to walk into the living room in a bathrobe, and discover someone sleeping there.

A dorm newsletter stated what we Krueger residents knew last year: The cold in the dorm was not our imagination.  The newsletter read, “Last year the temperature in Krueger…Remained below 55 degrees during January.”

The windows were replaced, the steam heating system was repaired, and the floors were carpeted, all adding warmth to that cold dorm at last…after I moved out, of course.

Phil and Dirk discussed playing D&D that night and ordering a pizza, but I hadn’t decided whether to join them.  At first I wanted to, but they were already playing D&D, we had no directories yet, and I didn’t know where to find them.

So instead, I settled down to a fun evening with my new roommies, Astrid, and Mike.  Clarissa wasn’t there, because it was a day before move-in day.  Mike lived nearby in H– and the others were to be freshman orientation leaders, so we were all early.

We sat around the big, fake-wood dining table in this small but lovely apartment.  We played games, such as non-alcoholic Spoons.  I had never heard of it before, but was told it was a drinking game.  Our punishments had nothing to do with drinking.  I forget what they were; maybe you were “It” or something like that.  I also don’t remember how the game was played, just that it involved spoons.

Phil had made dirty jokes all summer and, with his influence, I had joined in on some of them.  Some were in-jokes triggered by certain words or phrases.  I heard some of these words while with my friends that night, but said nothing.

I noticed that Mike made few or no dirty jokes that night, and I found it refreshing.  I admired him for it.  (Not that this state of things lasted–Mike actually does make such jokes, especially now that he’s married–but this made my heart go pitter-pat.)

Finally, Phil came along and tapped on the glass doors, and we let him in.

I realized, as I later told Phil, that I was glad to be there instead of playing D&D with him and Dirk.  My friends had been my family at Roanoke, longer than Phil had been with me.  After dealing with Phil’s drama all summer, it was a relief to be with my friends again.

Maybe that night or the night before, Phil told me his mom made him give his summer money to her.  He’d saved up all summer to buy my engagement ring from a catalog for $300, but she used that money on Phil’s car payments!  We were both furious.

Phil told me to “Stay with your friends tonight” instead of going back with him to his house.  At first I wanted to go with him, figuring I would miss him.  But I soon changed my mind.

Before he left, I told him I needed a ride to go to the store and get milk and orange juice, since I had a box of cereal and would now be eating breakfast in the apartment.  I didn’t have to go to Bossard for a normal breakfast anymore, because we had a kitchen.

All the rooms had white plastic wire towers with drawers.  One wire tower was in the toilet room of the bathroom, and each of us took a drawer for various personal items.

I call it the toilet room because the bathroom was actually three separate rooms.  In the main room were two sinks; to the left of them was the bathtub with its see-through glass door; to the right was the shower room; and across from the sinks was the toilet room.  This was the handicap suite because of Pearl, so we had a huge bathroom.

Some time that first week, probably right around Tuesday, I discovered Hot 102 (dance) had turned alternative, so that quickly became my favorite station.

Of course, I recognized almost immediately that Chicago’s Q101 was much better, and that Hot 102 (now New Rock 102.1) was copying it.  The signal for Q101 didn’t cut out until we got close to Milwaukee, so copying it was easy.

New Rock 102.1 used the same terms and did the same shows as Q101.  Example: The Retro Flashback Lunch.  Another example: “We give the name and artist of every song we play.”  (That was a wonderful perk, but they stopped doing it in about 1995.)

However, New Rock didn’t play the same songs as Q101: I greatly missed “Millennium” by Killing Joke and “Insanity” by Boingo.  But they did have “Undone (The Sweater Song)” by Weezer and “Snail Shell” by They Might Be Giants.

Now to give you the view from my window.  The apartment was on one end of the bottom level, which was partially submerged by ground on one side (hence the high windows).  My bedroom was on the submerged side.  From my window, you could see the new parking lot for the apartments, a sidewalk, and the edge of Muehlmeier.  Venetian blinds probably covered the window.

On the opposite side of the apartment, by the living room, there were glass, sliding doors and a view of the lagoon, the geese, the adjacent apartment building, and the courtyard.

Our side of the building was next to the other building.  If you faced these glass doors, to your left was the wall we shared with the next apartment.

To your right was the kitchen and the back outside door.  The outside door led to a ramp-like walk which curved to the right, up the hill, to the sidewalk leading to Muehlmeier and the Campus Center.  Pearl kept her scooter inside this door.  From this door, we could see the woods on the outskirts of the campus.

We had another door, which led to the apartment mailboxes, the little laundry room, and the next apartment.  We went upstairs to get outside.

As I already mentioned, the door locked automatically and had to be unlocked with a key card.  We weren’t supposed to leave this door open, but during move-in days, people often propped it open anyway with a heavy-duty floor mat.

The place had that new building smell.

Pearl put her new stereo system in the living room for us all to use.  It had a radio, tape player, five-disc CD changer, and remote control!  Everything you could wish for–well, except for a record player, but none of us brought our records anyway.  Records were too hard to transport safely.

But the antenna was weird.  It was this black, plastic, boxlike thing connected to a couple cords.  I don’t know why it wasn’t the usual metal pole.  By second semester, there were five discs in the CD changer at all times, so we could turn it on and play whatever came up.

On Tuesday, September 6, it felt weird doing my natural family planning in the apartment.  Before, I did it secretly so my parents didn’t know about it, but Phil knew I was doing it.  Here, nobody I lived with knew about it.  I took my temperature while still in bed when Sharon couldn’t see, and stashed other tools in the toilet room in my drawer.

I set up my work schedule: On Wednesday, I started work, from one to three p.m.  Once again, I kept my weekends and evenings free from work, just as I always avoided 8:00 classes.  This left weekends free for laundry, cleaning, homework, relaxing, and sleeping in.

Junior year, Sharon got five hours done on Saturdays, but I preferred to spread out my ten hours over the five weekdays.  Sometimes I had to do, like, one hour one day and three hours the next, but my ideal setup was two hours a day.  It all depended on class schedules and other workers’ schedules.  The librarians wanted only two people working the desk at one time.

I soon gave a class and work schedule to Phil.  This is important later, because in my innocence of what was to come, I let him know where to find me all semester.

I didn’t know what time Phil would show up at the apartment that day, but I knew he would.  I wanted to see him, and knew he wouldn’t want to go a whole day without seeing me, his beloved wife.  Not only that, but he knew I needed milk and orange juice, which I couldn’t get on campus.

This new guy named Charles came to visit us, and sat in the living room while I unpacked boxes.  He was loud, tall and huge.  I didn’t know why, but I felt this strange attraction to him.  He wasn’t handsome and I didn’t know him very well, so that wasn’t the reason.

He said proudly that he was of Sicilian ancestry.  He had a strong, aquiline nose.  He was  24 but a freshman, having been in the Air Force.  He had a girlfriend named Trina, another freshman.  My friends probably met them in orientation.  Charles and Trina had only just met, but were already dating.  Trina was about 18 or 19.  She had glasses and dark, shoulder-length, kind of feathered hair.

Since many of my boxes had been put in the living room for lack of other space, I unpacked them within the first few days so as not to annoy my roommates.  To my surprise, everything fit neatly in the closets and wire racks.  I unpacked the porcelain bird as Charles watched, and told him, with a big grin, that it was my engagement ring.

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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My husband Phil, Dave and Pearl call me a party pooper for getting a Grade II concussion–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 2

Here is the inspiration for a couple of scenes in my novel Tojet.

Sunday, September 4.  Phil wanted to do nothing but play with Dave’s new sci-fi football game on the Nintendo.  It was a weird, funny and interesting game, but I didn’t want to sit around all day watching Phil play it.

I had nothing else to do, not with everything still packed and in the van.  My projects Undine and Jerisland and probably all my books were still in the van.

As for the game, it had all these different types of alien creatures, from which you chose for your team.  I believe the field was in the air, and the sides were either fire pits or nothing but air.  When you called up a picture of a player, some alien announcer spoke in gibberish, saying, “Bleh-BLAHH!  Bleh-bleh-BLAHH!”

Then Dave and his Pearl asked if we wanted to go to the S– County Fair.

Soon after we got to the fair, Phil and I walked by a booth with posters you could win.  Phil kept saying he wanted me to win him one of the babe-posters.  Fed up by this and his ogling of girls all summer, I pointed to a beefcake poster and said, “I want you to win me that.”

He, of course, said no, and shooed me away, good-naturedly.  Finally!  I found a way to get back at him instead of just getting mad at him.

I thought the fair would be fun, and bought enough tickets for twenty rides.  The first ride was Phil’s favorite, some sort of box that spins around as the big wheel goes around.

Sometime during the ride, not only did the stuff in my pockets fly out into the box, but the side of the box hit my forehead.  Or my forehead hit the side of the box.  I had no way of knowing what happened or how it happened.  I’m almost certain I had my hands on the bar at the time.

The box moved so fast that the G-force and the speed kept me from crying out.  I hated the ride and couldn’t wait for it to stop.  Endlessly, the box kept spinning and moving around.  Finally, it ended.  I picked up the things that fell out of my pockets, and stepped out.

Phil saw the bruise on my forehead, and said a bump was rising.

Though I felt okay at first, a few minutes later my head started aching worse and worse.  I turned lightheaded and queasy.  Phil got me a cup of water from a vendor, and sat me down at a picnic table under the vendor’s big awning.  At first, he seemed attentive and sweet.

I said I needed to rest for a while.

“Should we go home?” Phil said.

“I want to wait a while before deciding that, to see if I feel better,” I said.

Dave and Pearl soon knew about my injury.

I kept feeling worse and worse–more painful headache, more powerful nausea.  Finally, I said I wanted to go home.  I had to get away from the fairgrounds and into some quiet, comfortable place where I could be tended to.

On the way out, we passed a parked ambulance.  I asked to go there, but we didn’t.  Phil even smiled and said,

“Are you sure you need to go to an ambulance?”

I wanted to find a first-aid station, but all I saw was the ambulance.  Phil and the others thought there was no need for either.

If I’d known just how serious a concussion can be, I probably would’ve insisted they take me more seriously and get help or take me to a doctor.  Of course, a person with a concussion is in no condition to be forceful.  Just check out this article from the Mayo Clinic.

This page recommends emergency medical attention if the bump results in a worsening headache and other symptoms I experienced.

According to a doctor I consulted by e-mail in 1999, I had the symptoms of a Grade II concussion!  Cugan also said it sounded like a secondary concussion.

My headache got worse and lasted at least until the next day, possibly longer; I should have been closely watched and, because of my severe headache, taken to a doctor immediately.  But none of the people with me took me seriously, not even Phil, my own husband!  They actually called me a party pooper:

We left the park and went to Dairy Queen for dinner.

During dinner, Phil told them about Undine, that I had been translating it, and how big it was and how difficult.  Dave said, “You’re nuts!”  Contrast that to a person from a German-speaking country who said to me in 1998, “I tip my hat to you.”  Apparently Dave didn’t understand the value of taking on a difficult project just to challenge yourself.

They began to talk about going dancing that night, and asked if we wanted to go.  I said I’d better stay home: I thought I had a concussion.  Phil said he would go.

What?  Here I was, injured with a Grade II concussion, needing someone to watch over me and take me to a doctor, and he wanted to go dancing?  Not only did he refuse to take me to a doctor, but he showed no sign of concern for my condition!

Through my pain, I was upset.  I turned very quiet.  Phil tried to say something to me once, but got no response.

Back at his house, I confronted him about this, but he insisted he wanted to go out dancing.

“My parents will be here, and you can lie on my couch, watch cable on my TV, and relax.”

I don’t think anyone told his parents about my concussion, because they never came into the room to check up on me.  With my nausea and overpowering headache, I was in no condition to go walking around telling people I was hurt; Phil should have told them himself.

Phil went on, “You can find things to do, as you always do.”

Yeah, like I could do anything but sleep or watch TV with my head pounding.  But that wasn’t the point.

I would’ve gone dancing, if I were feeling better.  It sounded like fun.  I hadn’t gone to a dance in a long time.  We later planned to go to the Friday dance at Roanoke so I could finally see Phil’s dancing.

It was such a major and odd part of Phil’s personality that Pearl, on the way to the fair, said she was surprised I hadn’t seen him dance yet.  She said you have to see him dance to really know him.  I hadn’t had the chance because the junior year dances had no good music.

Phil whined, “Other people always say, ‘Oh, you go ahead and have your fun.  Don’t mind me.'”

Oh, yeah, I wanted him home with me because I was a selfish twit.

I was miserable.  Phil was my husband: He wasn’t supposed to go out and enjoy himself while I lay on his couch, suffering from an untreated injury.  He was supposed to take me to a doctor!

His parents had just gotten two new puppies, little black and white ones, and kept them in a cage when they were inside.  I sat beside them.  Their names were something-Dave and something-Phil.  They loved the attention and wanted my petting.  I tried to comfort myself with them, and tried to hide my tears.

After Phil left, I watched some true-life TV movie about sharks attacking servicemen whose plane went down in the ocean.  In one scene, a man seemed to be asleep while floating in the water in a life preserver; it turned out his lower half had been bitten off.  The whole movie horrified me, especially since it really happened.  Watching this all alone sure didn’t help.  I tried to rest, but couldn’t with my awful headache.

This movie was probably Mission of the Shark, about the USS Indianapolis in WWII.

Phil later told me that Dave and Pearl thought I was a party pooper for wanting to leave the fair early!  They didn’t know how I could have gotten hurt.  They blamed me for getting hurt!

But it was a traveling fair, getting taken down and put up all the time, and people do get hurt on amusement park rides, especially in traveling fairs.  This fact was given on an episode of the Sally Jessy Raphael show in 1998.

Also, the September 13, 1999 edition of US News and World Report stated on page 59, “[G]etting banged on fingers or head by a safety bar are common.”  The article Fatal Attractions described the risk of injury at amusement parks, especially at traveling carnivals, which “are constantly dismantled and reassembled” (p. 58).

A few weeks after the incident, my friend Pearl said their remarks were uncalled for.  She and my other friends would have respected that I was injured.

I did ask that Phil not drink while dancing, at least.  If he came back with alcohol on his breath, that would finish me.  I was already upset enough.  I didn’t want him getting drunk while I ached both inside and out.  Besides, as I’d joked before with him and Dave, he was still underage.

He recently told me that he drank or smoked whatever people passed around at parties (never mind his health or if it was illegal).  I would never do that.  He called me a pooper.  I lost more respect for him.

After Phil came back from dancing, I told him I needed to talk.  But instead of staying with me in his room, he left again and disappeared for a long time.  I finally went looking for him, and found him talking alone with Pearl in the computer room.  I asked if he’d come back soon so I could finish talking with him.  Then I turned and left.

He soon came back, a smile on his face, and said, “Jealous?  She’s a nice person, but Dave’s fiancée.”

I knew he liked her back before he dated me, but I thought this was over now.  Still, seeing him there with her made me uneasy.  Besides, how is it “jealousy” to want to finish a discussion about how he’d been treating me?

That night or maybe the next day, Phil said, “I would love to be allowed to have three wives instead of just one.  You’d be one, Dave’s Pearl would be another, and that high schooler who likes me and keeps calling me at the wrong time–she’d be the third.”

Did he think I’d find this funny?  It only made me feel worse.  So he did still want Dave’s Pearl!  And I wasn’t enough for him!

Just like all summer long, he’d tell me he lusted after this or that girl, and when I got upset, say that other people’s girlfriends just laugh when their men do this.  He’d see a young woman and say he wouldn’t mind taking her in the back of his minivan.  A big-breasted and blonde high-school girl would hand him Dairy Queen sundaes through the drive-up window, and he’d tell me how much he loved the sight.  I’d say my breasts were big enough, and he’d say he saw bigger on previous girlfriends.

How dare I object?  As some drunken guys later told him, I was so “possessive”!

Phil also told me, “Dave and Pearl think you’re a party pooper for not wanting to go dancing tonight.  They think you’re a pooper because you never want to go dancing with me.  They remembered a time last semester when they asked us to go dancing, and you didn’t want to go!”

HUH?  What time was that?  I didn’t even remember it.  If it even happened, I probably just wanted to spend a quiet evening alone with Phil.  Or maybe I wasn’t feeling well or had a lot of homework.

Phil went on, “I used to go dancing every weekend, but I gave that up for you.”

This was news to me!   He never mentioned going dancing every weekend.  He never asked me more than once or twice–if at all–to go dancing on the weekend.  We went to Roanoke dances whenever possible, but they never had good music.

But then, abusers will make up things you’ve done or said that you never actually did or said, to make you the bad guy.  The gaslighting from this guy was unbelievable!  Did he really think I would fall for it when I knew it was a lie?

When I wrote the first draft of this account of the S– County Fair in 1995 or 1996, I showed it to my future husband Cugan and asked if I was being unreasonable.  He said,

“No.  Yes, people do often say, ‘Go ahead and have your fun,’ but they’re rarely taken at their word.  Usually they don’t really mean it.  Tell me something: What did you really see in this guy?  He didn’t seem to take this marriage seriously.”

Not only that, but I had a Grade II concussion and they were calling me a party pooper because I needed to go to a doctor, not dancing!

All during our relationship, Dave, obviously influenced by what Peter had told him about me, said nasty things about me to Phil.  When Phil said he wanted to date me, Dave said, “Don’t date her.  We don’t get along.”

Don’t get along?  But I didn’t even know the guy!  We’d never met before Pearl’s party, and got along quite well, flirting all evening!

Dave also kept telling tales about me to his parents.  This started way back in the spring.  His Pearl did it sometimes, too.

They accused me of all sorts of things: calling Indiana on the O’Hara dime (I always used a phone card), telling Phil not to take a one-day job (Phil decided not to and I supported his decision because of a major history test the next day), and probably other things I’ve forgotten now.

Dave’s parents seemed to listen to them far too much, because I began to get the feeling that they didn’t like me as much anymore.  For example, one day during the spring, as Pearl and I both sat in the living room, Maura called Pearl her favorite future daughter-in-law.  Was Maura trying to make me feel like dirt?

Phil thought Pearl was nice, but I considered her just as mean as Dave.  Not only did she go along with Dave’s smear campaign, but she did something else nasty as well:

I don’t remember when this was, May or September, but probably May.  It was a Saturday, no classes, nobody with work.  It was the middle of the afternoon, and long after I heard Dave take his shower.  I found a deserted bathroom, so I took a shower.  Because it was the middle of the afternoon and everyone else had already showered (including Dave), and because there were two bathrooms, I saw no reason to hurry.

I did the various things I always needed to do after a shower, such as shaving, moisturizing, putting cover-up on my face, combing my hair.  I didn’t dilly-dally around in the bathroom: I only took as long as I needed to do what I needed to do, and then I got out.  I was just about done.

All of a sudden, Pearl banged on the door and yelled meanly, “Hurry up and get out of there!  Dave needs to take a shower!”  No, she did not politely knock and ask if I could please hurry up.  She screamed as if I were deliberately holding up Dave.

How could I possibly have known that he needed to take another shower for soccer practice or whatever it was, in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, when nobody else was around when I started my shower?

I’m so glad to be out of that family: too many nasty people with absolutely no respect or consideration for others.  And I was being bullied by everybody together, a mob bullying!

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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