In an August letter to Clarissa, I described a headache which two of those mail-order music companies put me through, Word and Columbia House: I sent my May cards back in plenty of time to refuse the month’s latest “tell us no or we’ll send it automatically” selections, almost a month before the due date, along with address changes from Roanoke to my home.
Yet for some strange reason, they kept sending cards to Roanoke–along with the selections I rejected! Then when the selections were forwarded to my house (one was COD for some unknown reason!), I sent them back.
Then I got letters scolding me for either (Word) not paying for a CD I’d already sent back, or (Columbia House) not telling them I wanted to reject the selections.
I was furious, annoyed and irritated, dealing with this all summer long, when I had done everything I was supposed to, and had done nothing wrong.
I don’t recall when I finally cancelled these accounts, after all these years. This probably had something to do with it.
Sometime afterwards, I tried BMG, which eventually moved everything to a website, sometime between 1998 and the 2000s. I used the website to reject a selection, only to get it anyway. Or to order another, and not get it.
I finally washed my hands of music clubs completely, and now get my stuff from Amazon. This “tell us no or we’ll send it” method is ridiculous. I recommend staying away from clubs like this.
Another thing I wrote in that letter:
You won’t believe what station just drowned out Q101 (Chicago) for a few minutes and came in quite clearly: WIXX! They identified themselves as WIXX–Green Bay, and I about freaked. That station that you can’t pick up past S–, drowned out a Chicago station across the river?! (8/3–Phil tells me they were going to boost their power.)
Phil almost lost his legs one day! He came home and said his friend at work was driving the forklift (or some other kind of machinery) and didn’t see Phil there, picking up metal strips (or tubing or whatever it was). At the crucial moment, one of them saw the other and tragedy was avoided.
I felt that if I hadn’t prayed for him every day when he went to that factory (always fearing such incidents), and if they hadn’t seen each other in time, Phil would have lost the lower half of his legs, at or below the knee. He was glad I’d been praying for him.
His legs were in pain for a few days. After this, I prayed even more fervently for his safety at the factory each day.
Phil didn’t think he’d have to work the next day, but that he would just go in, report the incident, and come back home to recover. I expected to see him again within the hour after he left.
But his foreman said that because he didn’t report the incident right after it happened, he wasn’t eligible for compensation, and had to stay and work. I guess it was harder to prove it actually happened on the job, though his friend could back up his story, but the foreman should at least have let Phil take a sick day. It just didn’t seem fair.
Probably in July, Phil made up some character sheets for my new character, Phoena Palindrome, and we started playing Dungeons & Dragons with her.
She was a half-elven, bard meistersinger, with gold hair like the Crayola crayon. I wrote up a whole background for her. Phil found that strange, though I hear that’s common.
We went around the house looking for dice, since Phil didn’t bring most of his, just his players’ handbook, bard’s handbook, big Monstrous Compendium notebook and maybe a few other books.
We had to improvise with six-sided dice, though I do remember a cool, red, twenty-sided one with pink flecks, and possibly a gold nugget. Maybe he used these for his Dungeon Master rolls. There were big ones, small ones, red ones, tiny ones I found in a game.
Phil had to type up character sheets on the Microsoft Word Processor, because he had no real character sheets.
Later, I started a new character, Fury, a druid, meant to complement Phoena and be her more sensual cousin, so I could have a little more fun with her. (Phoena was saving herself for marriage.)
She had proficiencies Phoena lacked, and few of Phoena’s proficiencies. (If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry about it.) Their first and last names, by the way, were Phil’s idea, since he said he knew what kind of names an elf might have. Phoena’s name was spelled “Ph” because I liked it better.
I faithfully recorded every adventure Phoena had, and noted I didn’t like the many fights she had with other creatures. She didn’t like fighting, but it seemed the only way she ever had adventures to write songs about.
Phil said that as Dungeon Master, his games were battle-oriented. He was proud of this, but I found it boring. Phil soon brought in Darken, a dwarf, to help Phoena get out of fights alive.
He told me once that I was better at this and getting the hang of it faster than anyone else he knew.
Finally, something of more interest than constant fighting happened: Phoena was sold as a love-slave. On the way to her master’s home, she rode along in a cart with his other slaves, all male, not love slaves. One, a cute elf, took a special liking to her.
Phoena, by the way, never wanted to settle down with anyone, and kept breaking hearts. Phoena got away from her master with her virginity intact, answered a sphinx’s question, and continued her adventures.
Phil began complaining about what he gave up to be there with me, reproaching me with it, as if it were my fault somehow. He said he would’ve had steel-toed boots and not had to buy them, he would’ve had his own suits, he would’ve had this or that.
He mentioned an opportunity for doing a demo tape of his voice, which he would use to get announcing jobs on the radio or TV. The sub for the theater director told him about this in the spring, while the director had heart trouble. The sub was an accomplished actor, and loved Phil’s abilities.
I don’t know the circumstances, why Phil didn’t just go earlier or later.
Phil talked about these things as if I made him give them up, which I hadn’t. I never forced him to come down to Indiana, had resigned myself to not seeing him all summer. Then he said he wanted to take me down there, take my mom’s offer for him to stay with us, and find a job.
He defied his parents to do this, even though my mom said she didn’t want him disowned over this, and I did not want him to defy or lie to his parents. The true story is in the May chapter.
But now he changed history on me, trying to make me think I forced him into this against his wishes, so now it was all my fault he had to buy new boots and didn’t make that demo tape.
Did he seriously expect me to buy this? This, by the way, is more gaslighting, a common tactic of abusers and narcissists.
In December, he told a friend that I made him go down there, that my parents wanted to see if we should get married. When I confronted him with it in a letter, he acted to Pearl like he didn’t say that.
But you see here that he did say it to me, and that he was a gaslighting liar, so why should I believe he did not tell Randy that?
Also, he admitted to me in September that he manipulated people for his own ends, so why shouldn’t I believe that he told Randy this, then when it got back to me, pretended to Pearl that he never did?
A smear campaign to discredit the abuse victim, is another common tactic of abusers: If his friends all think I’m controlling and crazy, they won’t believe me when I tell the truth about what he did.
Also, all that time, over all those months since January 28 when we started going out, I thought Phil had been nice to Tracy during the breakup. I thought she accepted everything, said she never expected he would stay with her, anyway, because she knew where his heart truly lay.
This was how he explained it to me. He said he opened doors for her after the breakup and tried to be nice. When she began hating him and told his mom he treated her badly, I thought it was spite, and wondered where it came from after she’d been so understanding.
(Typical abuser tactic: paint the ex as crazy or spiteful, so you don’t believe anything she says.)
But no. This was not the case, after all. One night in the kitchen, I found to my dismay that he broke up with her meanly. He told her, “I’m sick of being a nice guy!”
Meaning, he was sick of being the nice guy who gave her a chance even though he was not attracted to her, but was in love with me.
Now, he also insulted me for “stealing him away” from Tracy. He said if he saw a girl he wanted with another guy, he’d let them be. He wouldn’t try to get her.
Never mind the fact that I only tried to “steal him away” because I asked him out first, he said he liked me rather than Tracy, and for his whole month with Tracy he kept showing and saying how much he wanted to be with me instead. He did not love her; he just knew her better. He loved me.
He spent all these months telling me how much he loved me, that he realized it before we went to Pearl’s party, etc. etc. He also checked with her, and she said it was perfectly fine for him to date other people, because they were not exclusive.
All this is depicted in the December and January chapters, which include details taken straight from diary entries I wrote while this went on.
If he actually loved Tracy and not me, I would have left them alone. But now he talked as if he were sorry I succeeded.
This fits with the abusive traits of gaslighting, berating, chastising and insulting.
And besides that, the timing was wrong, because he already liked me and already knew I liked him, so “going out” with her rather than choosing me was unfair to both Tracy and me.
It was unfair to me because I knew he liked me, and my feelings were hurt. It was unfair to Tracy because it led her on, and set her up to get even more hurt by a breakup instead of a simple rejection.
In the spring, he also accused me of being responsible for her pain by not being “assertive” enough in going after him.
Um….First semester I barely knew him, barely ever saw him, except at Pearl’s parties. He was a commuter, so I could not look him up in the campus directory. Yet I worked up the courage to ask him out, a huge step for me. I didn’t wait for him to ask me out.
The night we went out, I told him I was interested in him romantically. So how exactly was I not “assertive” enough?
But this was his way of making me responsible for his hurting Tracy through his own careless behavior. The latter part of summer was Phil putting one massive mindscrew on me, typical abusive and narcissistic behavior.
Here we were married, so we obviously belonged together, yet he insulted me for chasing him in the first place! This is emotional and psychological abuse.
We’d been going to bed at about 5 am and getting up at 1 or 2 in the afternoon. (Yes, you read that right.) Phil came home, then we’d want to game, he’d play computer games, he’d have a frozen pizza for his dinner, we’d make love, we’d talk, we’d argue….It depended on the night.
Mom told me we shouldn’t go to bed so late. It was weird to go to bed just when she got up, but Phil didn’t get home till after 11pm. I slept when he did (though I got up sooner, since nine hours is a lot) so I could be with him when he was awake.
It was the only time I got to see him during the work week, especially since he woke up at 2pm or later and then rushed off to work, unwashed.
He said guys at the factory went to bed right after work and slept until about that same time. Maybe they didn’t have wives or families, because their wives and/or children would want to see them sometime during the day.
Also, it’s hard to buy that, considering that midnight to 2pm is 14 frickin’ hours. Responsible adults need to spend part of every day doing something besides work and sleep: cooking, cleaning, paying bills, going on errands.
And, yes, caring for children and spending time with the wife. I suspect it was another lie meant to make me feel like a nag.
Phil picked up the game “Crack the Case” for the InterVarsity group, who loved playing board games at parties. One person, the gamemaster, knows the solution to a mystery case and the other asks yes or no questions. It sounded like fun, and you can see it has high marks.
But when Phil and I played it, he kept snapping at me.
If he was the gamemaster, he treated me like a stupid idiot when I didn’t pick up on some clue he gave.
Or, if I was the gamemaster, he yelled at me for not answering him “properly” with a yes when I thought it deserved a no. He thought I couldn’t decide for myself what I could say and what I couldn’t without breaking the rules.
Another abusive tactic: trying to make your spouse feel like she’s too stupid to function without you. And I have never wanted to play this game since, because it reminds me of him treating me like an idiot.
One night, he told me he’d been doing a “points” thing while driving to work. He would think of things for me and things against me.
One thing against me was that I wasn’t Catholic. That insulted me. It shouldn’t be a point against to be Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox; they’re all Christian.
As Sharon later told me, once you’re engaged, it’s time to stop the dating “point system.” It’s doubly time when you’re married.
My parents complained about him a lot at dinner these days. Just various things, like he shouldn’t make so much noise at night, or he should do such-and-such.
I tried to quiet him at night, especially when we were in the kitchen, but he still often talked loud. Sometimes I tried to defend him; sometimes I could think of nothing to say.
Sometimes we played D&D in the family room, sometimes in my room. D&D was so much fun that I wanted to play it most nights.
I liked playing Phoena, though she had to fight nasty creatures a lot, and I wished sometimes that Phil would concentrate more on the little romances he put into adventures than on battles.
Fury, a peaceful druid, did not have the skills to adventure in dangerous territory on her own, yet Phil insisted on having her gain some skill levels before she met Phoena.
(Why didn’t he just let me roll her at a higher level, instead of starting her out at first? That’s how now-hubby Cugan would have done it, and it makes more sense.)
Phil stuck her in a dungeon, and with the limitations of NVLD, I didn’t know what to do to get her out of it.
Phil gave me no help understanding how to play a druid. Instead he got mad at me and yelled at me like I was stupid, then said, “She gets depressed and dies.”
I got upset and he took it back, but we no longer played her. (I played her later in one of Cugan’s games.)
(Poor Phoena: Every game she’s in, dies. First this game ended when Phil and I divorced. Then I tried her again in a game with one of Cugan’s friends, but that game ended after one time. Then I finally pulled her back out again to play in my friend Richard‘s game, only to be betrayed by him and discover that he was not really my friend, so that game ended as well.)
Phil spent all his free time just sitting and playing computer games. It was boring to sit there and watch him, so I’d usually read, since I wanted to be with him.
Dad had the game Lemmings, and it was fun to watch Phil play it.
I tried to play it once, and asked Phil to help me learn it because he said he was great at figuring out the puzzles in each level.
I just asked him to help me learn how to play, but he told me how to solve everything, and got mad if I didn’t figure out the levels right away. That wasn’t what I asked him to do!
One level was especially perplexing: This big column-thing was in the way of the Lemmings, and you could only bash it in the direction opposite the one in which the Lemmings were going.
Phil told me to time some bombers perfectly and get a bunch of Lemmings digging at perfectly placed intervals along the top of the column-thing, to obliterate it from the top down.
It was impossible to place them so well that there would be no leftover slivers to block the Lemmings, but he insisted I do it this way, and became furious with me for not doing it right.
On December 23, I played that level on my own, and discovered how much better and easier the game was for me without Phil standing over me and telling me how to think.
I came to the level with the big column-thing. Phil had insisted I solve this the hard way, the nearly-impossible way–
–when all I needed to do was send a couple of crawling Lemmings over the column, make one of them a blocker so the other one would turn back around and become a basher, then the basher would bash through the column and make a nice tunnel for all the other Lemmings to go through.
Blow up the blocker, and all the other Lemmings will march through and make it safely home.
He tried so hard to make me feel like an idiot, yet once I got out of his influence, my true smarts became clear.
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)
Table of Contents
December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?
April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign
October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:
Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams
June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:
July & August 1994: