Category: NLD

NVLD and missing social cues

An incident with the hubby–which took me entirely by surprise and confused me–meant more teaching him about NVLD and how to deal with it….Though I could swear I’ve told him this before.  Basically, don’t rely on me to figure out through body language or inference that you’ve asked me a question.  You must use WORDS.  And direct words, because vague questions don’t work too well, either.

Anyway, there are some problems from NVLD which can be helped through training: social skills training, a driving instructor who understands learning disabilities, tutoring, sometimes even the hard way because many of us grew up long before NVLD was identified.  (Even now, apparently a lot of people haven’t heard of it, even teachers.)

Of course, it can be hard to fix things as an adult if they weren’t dealt with in your childhood, because now you have to pay your own way–and if the NVLD hinders you professionally, it’s harder to make $$$ to pay for help.  Even a neuropsych exam to diagnose the NVLD can be prohibitive, so you have to rely on self-diagnosis, which doesn’t exactly open up resources for you.  But sometimes you can figure some things out as you go along, though a bit later than other people do.

But there are some things which don’t get “fixed” no matter how much you know about your NVLD or how to cope with it.  For me, I know that I miss social cues, but I only know this because sometimes people get angry with me out of the blue.  But whether they don’t know I need words, or I’ve told them but they either forget (hubby) or choose to ignore it (my narcissist ex-“friends” Richard and Tracy), if they don’t use the words, I’m not going to know the cues are there, either.

It made me reflect that this is the story of my life: Just going along, doing my thing, trying to be nice to people, and all of a sudden somebody yells at me.  Or scolds me.  Or starts rumors about me.  Or accuses me of all sorts of things which just plain aren’t true.

They say if you want to date, you need confidence.  Except how can you have confidence when all you’ve ever known is that people are going to hate or be angry at you without you ever knowing why?

They say, “You don’t need to be shy.  A lot of people like you.”  But how can you stop being shy when the haters keep coming around?  Or when you try to be social, or do things other people do, only to get either ignored or insulted?

Basically, you learn to be shy and retiring even if you weren’t born that way.  I think I was born that way because it runs in my family, but it can also be reinforced over and over again throughout life.

Many introverts have similar problems to the NVLDers because their brains work differently than an extrovert’s, so they have different social needs and conversational styles which lead to misunderstandings.  But NVLD adds on issues that an introvert may not have trouble with.

For example, organizational problems can make it hard for the NVLDer to make it places on time, so they’re labeled rude, self-absorbed, not caring about other people’s time.  But that’s not it at all, as the NVLDer may have been running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to make it there on time, but ultimately failed.

Or trouble with inference, hand-eye coordination, remembering directions, remembering landmarks, interpreting conditions and what to do when, can all make driving a lot harder than it might be for other people.  But if we refuse to do it, we may be accused of giving in to fear, not being a grownup, wanting other people to be our taxicab, etc.  I was terribly verbally and emotionally abused for this by my ex.  Even though if you aren’t comfortable, you’re not a good driver, and doesn’t everybody say that some people shouldn’t be driving?  Do you really want me on the same road with you?

But because our disability isn’t easy to see–unlike, say, blindness or paralysis or a broken arm–people often miss it and don’t understand.  If a blind person doesn’t drive, you say of course not!  You don’t look at them funny and say everybody has to drive.  Not if you’re sane, anyway.

But if someone with NVLD completely misses your cues or doesn’t know how to properly enter a group conversation, or doesn’t recognize your attempts to make conversation, we are, essentially, blind.  Not exactly physical blindness, because we can see.  But then, it kind of is, because we don’t see what you’re doing.  Or maybe we see it but can’t interpret, so it’s meaningless to us and disregarded just as when we see somebody blink.

So when we go through life experiencing people randomly blowing up at us, hating us, spreading rumors about us, dismissing us as friends or dates, that sort of thing–we learn that people are confusing and unpredictable.  This is why the usual advice doesn’t work for us: talk more, talk less, don’t be shy, be confident.

And also why, for a writer, putting body language into dialogue is like trying to write a dissertation on astrophysics when you couldn’t even pass Chemistry.

Basically, see NVLD as a kind of blindness, and maybe you’ll understand better that the NVLDer or Aspie isn’t trying to make you angry on purpose.  Getting angry at them only makes them upset and confused.

I’m not looking for sympathy necessarily here, but rather to help “normals” (“neurotypicals”) understand NVLDers and Aspies a bit better (NVLD is similar to Asperger’s).  And also to give some solace to NVLDers and Aspies who are going through what I’ve described, to show you that you’re not alone.

 

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One way that NVLD affects marriage

An argument today demonstrated vividly for Hubby and me both that NVLD can affect marital harmony.

But this time we experienced a breakthrough that shined light on a problem we didn’t realize was there.

Basically, without getting into boring personal detail, Hubby made a comment that he thought would give me all sorts of information which he did not actually say out loud.  In other words, “subtext.”

I totally missed the subtext because of, well, NVLD or some related disorder (such as Aspergers; I don’t have thousands of $$$$ to get formally diagnosed).

So I made a request which seemed perfectly normal and reasonable to me.  He infused it with all sorts of offensive motivations on my part, because he assumed I caught the subtext.

Fight ensues.  I feel like I’m living with a timebomb.  He thinks I keep saying things and using tones which, well, I’m not at all.  I’m not the kind of person who would.

Somehow during the course of discussion afterwards, he explained the subtext, and he learned that it went completely over my head.  Also that I do much better with literal speech.

I may be a writer, may understand idioms I’m familiar with, but as a child, I took idioms more literally.  Even now I’ll occasionally discover that some concept I take literally, is supposed to be metaphorical.

Education has made me familiar with the concept of metaphor, but unless you tell me a book has it, I’ll usually miss that there’s any metaphor in there at all.  I read the book plainly without inferring; I don’t guess how it will end; I would never have seen the eyeglasses in Great Gatsby as a metaphor for God if the teacher had not said they were.  I often have to back up movies and TV shows and play scenes again, because I have no idea how Sasha ended up dead in the kitchen, for example.

So now Hubby understands that he needs to speak more plainly, verbalize things he thinks can be inferred.  And I wonder how many past arguments are based on me totally missing his subtext, and him thinking I understood it.

I’ve also noted that he keeps putting far more into what I mean by my tone, than what I actually do.  Or being particular about the words I use.  I’ve also noted that people keep taking me seriously when I’m making a joke.

I explained that misunderstanding of, and trouble using, tone are NVLD problems as well.  And that I’m an introvert forced to speak on the fly, so I don’t have time to come up with the perfect words.

(Introverts have to think before they speak.  This makes it almost impossible for me to think of the perfect words.  And he discovered that I don’t see the difference between using one particular word or another, while he does.)

(This is why I prefer writing to discuss things with people.  In person I say the wrong thing and sound awkward and can’t get my meaning across, especially when interrupted.)

I explained that it’s a lot easier to understand expressions on actors on TV, because I can back up the tape, and stare at them fully, unlike in real life, where if you stare they’ll think you’re creepazoid.

(Unless you’re German.  Apparently Germans keep super-steady eye contact, unlike Americans, who flick our eyes every few seconds.)

It also doesn’t help to be uncomfortable with eye contact.  Even after 22 years, I don’t even feel comfortable having prolonged eye contact with the hubby.  Even when we were dating, the concept of “staring into each other’s eyes” made me uneasy.

And then I start wondering about past relationships and–I start wondering if it’s too much navel-gazing 20 years after those relationships ended, considering that I already explored those relationships in-depth here, and much of the necessary context is lost in the mist of memory.  And, well, those guys also ended up annoying other people or treating other girls the same, so maybe my NVLD wasn’t the only reason for arguments.

But in this case, it sure didn’t help.  Hopefully things will go more smoothly after this, more understanding on both sides.

 

 

 

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NVLD vs. Aspergers: Videos to explain

Richard and Tracy refused to believe in my NVLD, and it was the source of most of our problems (that and me recognizing her abuse).  But it is real, and the following video succinctly describes my childhood–and many of these problems have followed me into adulthood:

Another source of disagreement was Richard thinking that NVLD and Asperger’s are one and the same, so since I don’t act autistic, I must not have NVLD. But here the differences are clearly explained:

And this describes Asperger’s:

 

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My struggles with reading comprehension: Another sign of NVLD

NVLDers tend to think in words and struggle with visualizing.  They also tend to have trouble comprehending what they read.

I just read this blog post by Paige Mead, who has autism–but does not think in pictures, so I found NLDers agreeing with her:

People describe things to me and I attempt to picture them in my head. It doesn’t really translate. I try to describe things to people. They don’t get a mental image from my descriptions, from what I’ve noticed. Granted, I do write these types of things better than speaking them.

I read books, and no matter how well written the worded images are, sometimes I still don’t visualize scenes. I just follow the words and the story and the narration and read for the words.

Yes!  When I’m reading, long descriptive passages are especially difficult to get through.  I get little fragments of pictures in my mind–visualizing individual parts as I read them–but I struggle to put them all together into one big whole.  It helps when I have a picture in my head of an actor, or a picture in front of me of a character or scene.

This is especially a struggle right now as I re-read The Lord of the Rings: I read through passages rich with description–the story of the Ring, or Bilbo’s poem of the traveler, or a description of some other thing–or even watch the movie’s quick version of the Ring.  And it takes such a long time, as I fight to put all the images together into a coherent whole.

I finally break down and just start reading the words without visualizing, so I don’t know what the heck is going on, but I’m getting to the next paragraph at least.  This is with or without music playing, and when I do play music, it needs to be as quiet and undistracting as possible.

Whenever somebody in a movie describes something, even the movie version of the Ring with its visuals, it still is too fast to comprehend.  Reading helps because I can go back and re-read, but I still get confused.

This is one reason why I take so much longer reading books than other people do.  No, it was absolutely impossible for me to read a Harry Potter book in one day, like others have done.

If I want to actually comprehend what I’ve read, then it’ll take an hour or two to read 20 pages, depending on the density of the prose.

When I read 100 pages a day of Clarissa back during a college break, or 80 pages a day of Jane Eyre in high school, it amazed me because normally I simply cannot read that much in a day.

It seems like I could understand the Bible a lot more as a teenager reading it the first time.  But for years now, I can read an entire chapter–whether prophecy, a story of a battle, or an epistle–and it’s all just a blur in my head.

But I can read an emotion-filled novel such as Jane Austen, and comprehend it much better.  Tolkien, however, is so dense as to cause trouble.

I have read entire books on theology, history and what caused the Great Schism of the East/West churches, but a couple years later, I could not tell you much of what was in them.  I don’t re-read books to find new things I never noticed before.  I re-read books to remember what was in them, because I forgot.

I tried going very slowly through Elrond’s story of the Ring today, and I kept having to go back and re-read names and descriptions from earlier in the passage.  So I think I mostly got it, but parts are still confusing.

It helps that I have seen the movie a number of times and read the book before, but I still have trouble putting everything together.  How did Isildor lose the Ring?

I’m still not sure, but was Aragorn actually using the broken sword, or did he just have it along with a sword he could actually use?  Because how can you use a broken sword?  Argh!

And all I got from Bilbo’s poem (which I read today) is that some guy was traveling on the sea and met some elves.  Then I just go on ahead to the next paragraph, accepting that I’m confused.

Also, in college placement tests, I scored highly on everything else but abysmally on reading comprehension.  So my adviser said I should take a remedial reading class.

For a writer who was in Advanced Placement English, who had–in high school–read all sorts of classic novels which were not assigned in class, this seemed ridiculous.

I took the class, but dropped out a week later because it was full of international students who knew English as a second language.  I read slowly and my comprehension suffers, but still I managed to graduate with honors.

This is one reason why I don’t go for jobs which involve understanding and explaining complicated rules (such as insurance or mortgage brokering).  I don’t comprehend what the person is telling me, so how could I explain it?

And I could swear it’s been getting worse over time.  As I wrote above, I used to be able to comprehend what I just read in a Bible passage.  Now I completely miss a Bible passage even if it’s read in church, or even if I read it to the church!

I also struggle to follow someone else’s writing when they read it in a Writer’s Club workshop without passing out copies.  This is one reason why I lack comments or suggestions.  I wonder if approaching the age of perimenopause is making it worse.

Children with Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of autism, and those with a condition known as “nonverbal learning disability” may have similar symptoms, however the underlying causes are very different, according to brain scans….

Children with nonverbal learning disabilities and Asperger’s can look very similar, but they can have very different reasons for why they behave the way they do. —Brain anatomy separates Asperger’s from Learning Disability

 

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My friends tell me that Phil is controlling and possessive; My first Pentecostal church service: They speak in tongues–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 6

My friends tell me that Phil is controlling and possessive

I kept the engagement bird up on the living room shelf because I had nowhere else to put it.  Phil told me to keep it.

Though tempted to break the bird into a million pieces, I dreamed that I did and began to sob over the poor bird.  It wasn’t its fault.  So I didn’t break or even chip it.

I later put the game Crack the Case, which Phil had put in my safekeeping, into a cupboard below the sink.

At some point, Phil told me on the phone about things people thought of me and the “advice” they gave.  I objected.  He said, “Are you saying that Dave doesn’t know you?  That Peter doesn’t know you?”

What?  Peter’s problems with me were old and very petty, and Peter said he treated me the way he did because it was hard to deal with his feelings.  He hadn’t seen me much at all since freshman year.

As for Dave, he barely knew me.  He hadn’t seen me all summer, and before that he only saw me for a few months and only every once in a while, when Phil and I weren’t alone together.

He saw me in Botany class and labs, but that’s schoolwork, and I believe I was more into the class or the lab than into being sociable with him.  I still don’t see why he said “we don’t get along” when he had only just met me and I thought we got along just fine.

Dave told all sorts of lies about me, while barely knowing me.

Anyway, Phil used his statement (“do they not know you?”) to justify what his friends said about me: party pooper, Bible beater.

(Peter said nothing to him about breaking up with me, though, because Peter only knew we broke up, not why.  I don’t know when he found out or how he heard.  I believe he said in late winter that he hadn’t spoken to Phil in quite a while after the way the family treated him in early 1994.)

I said these people didn’t know me so well.  Also, what they supposedly said didn’t fit me at all.  I didn’t go to parties with drugs, alcohol, or sex, but usually to parties with my own friends.  I had a great time, so who would call me a pooper?

What did “party pooping” have to do with our relationship or anything else, anyway?  Nothing!  Marriage is not about partying.  (For him to even think so, shows he was not ready for it.)

And he only just said that I wasn’t a Bible beater “like Pearl.”  Even if I was, so what?  I was a Christian, and that was what mattered.  My lifestyle had kept me out of tons of trouble, and eventually, my life would be very happy because of it.

Neither of these so-called “problems” were any reason to break up with a person, and there were many people who wouldn’t consider them “problems” at all.

Phil was probably talking to one of those boring partiers who just wanted to get drunk and do harmful things all the time.  I had no patience with such people, screwing up their brains instead of protecting and using them.

My response was, “Maybe you don’t know me so well after all.”

He said, “Do you really want to be with a guy who doesn’t know you?”  But this is faulty reasoning.  The point is to get to know a person over time, not necessarily to know them very well at the outset.  How can you?  It takes time.

Now I understand that this is triangulation, as I describe here, a tactic used to make you think you’re the problem and that everybody agrees.  But at the time, it just came out of left field.

Phil said on the way back to Roanoke that this was the best summer of his life because he’d been with me.  Then, a few days later, THE END.  How could I believe anything he said to me that week?

I went through almost two weeks of trying to fight away the misery and trying to figure out whether or not we were ever really married.

Phil now said we weren’t after all, that now he wasn’t sure he even believed in marriage anymore, that he no longer thought sex was wrong if the couple loved and were committed to each other, that he was getting desperate and thought it possible he’d sleep with someone in the heat of the moment–all things that crushed me.

****

I heard tell, and could see for myself, that the freshman class was about as big as the three other classes put together.  And now the lunch lines went all the way back to the opposite wall, then doubled up and went all the way back to the outside doors!

The line seemed to take different routes every year: Freshman year, the line would go into the Muskie.  I think at times it had even gone around the other Bossard walls.  I believe sometimes it would also double up over by the Muskie.

Anyway, you had to be careful what time you went to Bossard for lunch, or else you’d get stuck in this line, whatever way it went.  Sometimes we would just sit down and wait for it to get smaller, because it would, eventually.  And what were we waiting for?  School food!  Ugh!  (Though it was better than public school food by far.)

I loved goatees junior year, but senior year–I don’t know, I guess too many guys were wearing them now.

Sarah, Tara, etc. used to say, “PEO-ple! It’s PEO-ple!”  (That came from a Bugs Bunny cartoon, one with a tennis-shoed, orange-haired monster in a scientist’s castle.)  Now Tara got us all saying, “PEEP-hole!  We want a PEEP-hole!”

We wanted a peephole on our outside door for safety reasons.  The door didn’t have a window, and neither did that whole wall, so we couldn’t see who was out there before opening it.  When Mike came along and banged on it in his own peculiar way, we didn’t know if it was him or a crazed Zeta.

I loved the honks of the geese by the lagoon.  Though they would threaten me if I went near them, I considered them my friends: Their beautiful sounds consoled me.

Sharon said the choir director complimented her on never having “S– hair.”  S– hair, in those days, was big, curly hair.

****

Now my friends told me the many reasons why they didn’t like Phil.  I always thought they just found his jokes annoying.

I didn’t realize it was the way he treated me, that he treated me like a child, that he was too controlling and possessive.  A couple of years late, Cindy told me she witnessed him yelling at me, and later at the girl he married, and she hated that.

After the divorce, he said the drunk guys at the party called me possessive.  In reality, I only objected when he leered at–not just looked at–or made crass jokes about other women, and when he said he wanted two additional wives.

I never acted like he couldn’t be friends with other women.  It’s not “possessive” to be suspicious of someone who gives you good reason to suspect him.  Apparently, he was just projecting his own trait onto me.

My friends said nothing because they thought I could see it and was okay with it.  But I’d been too blinded by NVLD to notice the things my friends noticed.

I can tell you for sure that this was not just them comforting me after a breakup, like friends sometimes do, telling you all the bad things to get you over him faster.  As I describe later, one of my acquaintances–not one of my close friends–told a friend at dinner one day that she needed to “warn” Persephone about Phil.  I never talked to this person about Phil.

Even after I graduated and got engaged, and no longer cared who Phil dated, my friends saw a new girl date and marry Phil.  They saw him do the same things with her, hated him, even tried to warn her before she married him.

It wasn’t just our opinion, either.  Even Persephone later agreed that he treated his girlfriends like children.  “Sure,” she said, “he’ll be respectful to a girl when she’s just his friend, but as soon as they start dating, he treats her like a child!”  She said maybe it was because he considered his mother a child, and was disrespectful to her.

Dad said Phil was very unstable, and a yo-yo, always going back and forth.  In their talks together, Phil often seemed “stupid.”  Mom said he made too much noise at night, and that in all the time he spent with us, he never lifted a finger to help with the chores, or to pay them back for things they bought him for work.

My first Pentecostal church service: They speak in tongues

One day, I sat in my room thinking, I’m so depressed and I think I’d like to go to church this Sunday.  The phone rang.  Out of the blue, Anna invited me to her church.  I thought maybe she did have a “direct line to God,” as Latosha used to tell her.

The most likely date we went to the church is September 11 (back when that day had nothing bad associated with it).

Anna’s church in S– was noisy, spiritual and full of activity.  I didn’t feel comfortable joining in with shouts or claps or any of that, being a Nazarene (though Dad told me once that Nazarene churches used to be a lot like that).  But a Pentecostal church is the perfect place to go when you’re upset.

Rather than the preacher leading them in prayer, for a time, the congregation was encouraged to pray privately–but out loud.  Anna knelt beside me and prayed in tongues.

I asked her later what the words meant, and repeated what I remembered.  She said she didn’t know, but she always looked them up afterwards in a special dictionary for people who speak in tongues.

I saw my old suitemate Tom there!  After the service, a man told me, “When he came to us, Tom was a messed-up Catholic!”  Then Anna brought him to her church, and there he was that day–a Pentecostal and (as they called it) full of the Spirit!  I couldn’t believe it.  He was so different from the partying suitemate I knew freshman year.

People found out I was a Nazarene (sort of a sister church), so they kept trying to convince me to turn Pentecostal, and that their doctrine on speaking in tongues is the correct one.  But they did this in a nice way, so I was more amused than annoyed.

I must admit, their stories were surprising–like young children speaking in tongues–and I was almost convinced.  But not quite.

Someone gave me a new King James Bible, the church’s usual gift for newcomers.

Anna and I went to school brunch together and talked about the breakup.  I asked what she thought of spiritual marriages, if they were real.  Her answer surprised me: She thought they can be more real than many “legal” marriages that are just a piece of paper.  But she also said we should follow the laws of the land.

Then we went down the Campus Center stairs and saw Phil in the foyer.  Anna left me with him, gushing about how wonderful it was that he was there and I could talk to him.

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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Phil picks fights and avoids responsibilities to make me feel like a shrew–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 1

The following quote from Psychopath Free explains everything that happened during this month and the following months, changing “online” to “on a college campus,” where I saw Phil and Perspehone constantly–especially when they both sat right there with my friends and me at lunch–getting all cuddly and cute with each other.

It explains Phil’s behavior, refusing to accept any of my complaints as valid or anything but a shrew who has to cut him down.

While I was supposed to accept everything he wanted or complained about as gospel truth or my wifely duty, no matter how cutting, no matter how painful, no matter how it slandered my character.

The friend he talked to, was Dirk, whom he manipulated into thinking I was an abusive shrew, and who then became Phil’s tool of controlling me by proxy.

Now for the quote:

The final triangulation happens when they make the decision to abandon you. This is when they’ll begin freely talking about how much this relationship is hurting them, and how they don’t know if they can deal with your behavior anymore.

They will usually mention talking to a close friend about your relationship, going into details about how they both agreed that your relationship wasn’t healthy.

In the meantime, they’ve been blatantly ignoring frantic messages from you. You’ll be sitting there wondering why they aren’t chatting with you about these concerns, considering it’s your relationship.

Well, the reason is that they’ve already made the decision to dump you—now they’re just torturing you. They only seek advice from people they know will agree with them. That “friend” they’re talking to is probably their next target.

After the breakup, they will openly brag about how happy they are with their new partner [Persephone, whom he dated immediately after the breakup], where most normal people would feel very embarrassed and secretive about entering a new relationship so quickly.

And even more surprising, they fully expect you to be happy for them. Otherwise you are bitter and jealous.

During this period, they make a post-dump assessment. If you grovel or beg, they are likely to find some value in your energy. They will be both disgusted and delighted by your behavior.

If you lash out and begin uncovering their lies, they will do everything in their power to drive you to suicide.

Even if you come back to them later with an apology, they will permanently despise any target who once dared talk back to them. You’ve seen too much—the predator behind the mask.

This is why they constantly wave their new partner in your face, posting pictures and declaring their happiness online. Proving how happy and perfect they are.

It’s a final attempt to drive you insane with triangulation. To make you blame the new target, instead of the true abuser.  —Torture by Triangulation

****

Probably on a Thursday night while my parents were at the store, and probably on September 1, 1994, I saw the first episode of My So-Called Life.  Since no one else was home, I was free to watch it in privacy in the living room and have my own opinions about it.

I loved it.  Angela, Claire Dane’s character, reminded me so much of myself at 15: insecure, feeling out of place at a party, all that stuff.  They sure dressed weird, though–and Ray-Ann’s hair!  Where did she get those ideas?

****

Phil’s brakes needed to be fixed.  Back in May, he had them inspected, and they needed new pads.  We went to Firestone together to have them checked.  The service man gave him a paper with everything listed that was wrong with the brakes.  It wasn’t just the pads, but that would help at present.

It was understood that Phil needed to have the brakes fully fixed before we went back to Roanoke.  That was a 4 ½ hour drive, including Chicago and Milwaukee interstate traffic, and we sure didn’t need the brakes going out somewhere along the way.

Phil installed the brake pads himself with the help of Dad and my brother Jake.  Jake said proudly, “I knew he could do it!”

But in September, he still hadn’t gotten the brakes fully fixed, yet I had such trouble with him!  I believe that on Friday, September 2, he still hadn’t told his employer he was quitting, no two weeks’ notice, and he had to go in to work that day and tell them.  We were to return to S– that weekend.

So on Friday he would have only a few hours, if he got up early enough, to get the brakes fixed.  Doing it on Saturday was probably out of the question: Shops tended to close on Saturdays.

Phil wouldn’t take me anywhere without me begging.  He wouldn’t take responsibility for himself and get up in time to take a shower before work, even though he set my old clock radio for 1 p.m. each night.

So even though he had plenty of time to get the brakes fixed, he slept through every chance to do it.

Then on what was most likely Friday, September 2, was his last chance to take care of the brakes before we went back to school.

Yet what did he do?  He insisted on sleeping late, despite my trying to get him up, and snapped at me for trying to wake him!

But if he didn’t take care of the brakes that day, the brakes could give out while we were on the road, and we both could die!  I didn’t know about him, but I wanted to live a while longer.

But finally I got him to get up, and he FINALLY got his brakes fixed.  I could not believe him sometimes!

On probably September 3, we left in the afternoon.  Finally, I got to sleep in, rather than waking up in the wee hours of the morning to go back to Roanoke, like usual when my parents took me.

On the way, Phil said, “This has been the best summer of my life because I spent it with you.”

Though I didn’t say so, for me it had been one of the worst.  For quite some time, I cried every day because of Phil’s words or actions.

For the past week or so, we had been in another honeymoon period, which I hoped would continue.

But as September wore on, Phil kept doing and saying things which showed he no longer cared for me or my well-being, even though he kept saying he loved me.  Even his family seemed to turn against me.

I also found myself having feelings for other guys, one I knew (Mike) and one I met during the first week of the school year (Charles).  I couldn’t imagine breaking up with Phil, but these guys seemed sweet and decent, especially Mike.

Considering the summer I just endured, it’s no mystery that my heart latched onto a nice guy so quickly after we returned to school and out of the bubble of home.  Mike gained my respect, which Phil had lost.

But back to September 3.  When we got to Chicago, we had an argument.  I don’t remember now what it was about.  All I know is it had something to do with Phil having me look at the map to figure out where we were.

(Keep in mind that I have NVLD, which makes map-reading more difficult, especially when rushed.  We didn’t have Google Maps to make it easy with specific routes, street views, and text directions.)

We must have gotten off track somehow.  He got mad at me for something, maybe for not finding things fast enough or for not finding a certain street.  I got upset with him for getting upset with me over something like that, which I couldn’t help.  We may have made up later on during the drive, if we ever really did.

When we got back and unpacked what we needed for overnight, his mom threw some sheets at the bed.

He never used sheets before while I was with him, just blankets, while we slept directly on the bare mattress.

Sesame seeds (from fast food) and dirt got on it all the time.  Since he never put sheets on, it never got cleaned off except with a swipe of the hand.

Before, I was so much in love that I barely noticed.  But now, after spending the summer on sheets I washed weekly, I couldn’t stand getting on that icky mattress again without sheets.

Yet he even made that into an argument.  He looked at me like I was ridiculous and a shrew for wanting sheets on the bed.  He said if I wanted them, I could put them on.

Why on earth was he so petulant over putting sheets on his bed?  He obviously wanted to pick fights on purpose, somehow finding a way to make me the one to blame, even though I did nothing wrong.

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 says if he abuses me, it takes two people to sign the divorce papers–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–August 1994, Part 4

One day that August, Phil said that if he went to the computer right away and didn’t come upstairs after work, it meant he needed some space.  I wasn’t terribly happy about it, because after a day away from him and with my parents, I liked to see him and talk to him right away, and greet him.  But I understood, so I let him have this space.

He did like to say good-bye to me every day and kiss me at the door, and another day that August he said that was special to him.  He liked knowing that someone cared for and loved him.

I said now that I’d like to kiss him hello, too, but when he came upstairs to my room after work, he didn’t often come over to me while I sat on my chair.  He said he didn’t want the kiss to lose its meaning.

It was hard to take, and he did have all that time away from me during the day, but I thought it was a guy thing.  I gave him space whenever he asked for it, but he had to let me know he needed it, or else I wouldn’t know.  My alone time came while he was gone and I read/wrote in my room.

Despite my best efforts, in September (probably during the fateful first Friday back, which you will soon read about), he complained that I didn’t give him space!  But as this shows, I did give him his space.

From August until September, I let him play on the computer alone; once or twice he asked to sleep alone in the guest room, and I let him.  I actually liked having the bed to myself for once, though I was lonely.  It was a good switch, and I didn’t mind so much.  Yet more gaslighting and changing history to justify a breakup!

****

One Sunday, Phil said what I never thought he would say:

Once before, he threatened to hit me; this must have been after the miscarriage, because he later said he didn’t mean it and, “How could I hit the mother of my child?”

But this time, in the van on the way to the evening church service, somehow the topic of abuse came up in the conversation.  I don’t remember why, probably after some threat, I told him if he ever hit me, ever abused me, I would divorce him.

He said petulantly and angrily, “It takes two people to sign the divorce papers.”

Somehow, I think the law would be on the side of the abused wife.  I remember telling one of Cugan’s friends about this in 1996 or 1997, and she said it does take two people, but the wife could still divorce an abusive husband.  She should know: This happened to her.

I had yet to recognize that Phil already did abuse me in other ways quite often.  That’s the danger of emotional abuse: not recognizing it because it’s not hitting.  If I’d known better, if we hadn’t said those marriage vows, if I had no trouble finding dates, I would’ve sent him packing before the end of the summer.

He was also dead wrong:

Can he keep me from getting a divorce by refusing to sign the paperwork?

Answer:

No, he can’t. He doesn’t have the legal right to dictate to you whether or not you can obtain a divorce. His response is not uncommon for someone who thinks it is OK to beat a spouse but, he is misguided in his belief that he has that kind of control. –Cathy Meyer, Can My Spouse Refuse to Sign Divorce Papers?

Wisconsin is also a no-fault divorce state, so only one person needs to want the divorce, without having to prove grounds for divorce.

****

Phil had become immovable, intractable, willful, obstinate.  One Sunday afternoon in August or maybe September, I tried to tell him I needed to go look for pH paper so our natural family planning could be more accurate and I wouldn’t get pregnant.

He kept saying he wanted to sleep, but I said the stores might close soon.

“I can’t have my parents take me, for goodness’ sake!”  I cried.  How would I explain it?

He said, “You have a license.  Borrow the car.”

I hadn’t driven since 1992!!  I hadn’t driven very often in the first place, and I didn’t know if I’d remember everything now.  I didn’t want to drive again without someone with me to make sure I did it right.

I write here about the trouble I’ve always had with driving, and how I believe NVLD is the cause.  NVLD is a visual-spatial disorder.

I’m afraid and not a good driver.  I have trouble steering and judging when it’s safe to turn.  I easily get confused on unfamiliar roads, or on road construction detours.  I have gotten terribly lost, or completely turned around, because of poor visual memory and trouble reading a map.  I don’t know what to do in unfamiliar situations.  I have a poor sense of direction.

All of this meant I should not just go out on my own, especially since I had no idea how to get any place in the city, despite growing up there.  I wouldn’t know how to get to our usual pharmacy, let alone any other place which might have pH papers.

But he showed no desire even to understand or sympathize, just wanted to throw me out on my own where I would probably get hopelessly lost or have an accident.

The drivers’ ed class I took when I turned seventeen had no machines to teach us how to drive before going out in traffic.  The instructor took our permits to make sure we’d never be without them in the car, so I could get no practice outside of class unless I broke the law.

It took at least two tries before I passed my final test, and the instructor gave me a DOT driving test waiver, but begged me to practice.  However, I was still too frightened to practice much.  Then at college, I didn’t have a car.

I’d always been afraid of cars, and got a lot of bad-natured ribbing for it from classmates in junior high because I wanted to be absolutely sure I could cross Ewing Street to my bus stop.  That was a very busy street, too busy for young kids to cross every day for the bus (even Mom said so), and it frightened me.

Those kids were very cruel to me.  And now, I was scared of driving because cars can kill.

If you have to do something, you have to do something, and in this case, it was finding pH paper.  The books I read said I was supposed to check the pH of my cervical mucus, but didn’t say how.  All I could think of was that you do what you did in school: use pH paper.

As far as either of us knew, it was vital to success with this kind of birth control.  He didn’t want me getting pregnant on Monday because I didn’t know if I was ovulating, did he?  And some stores closed early on Sunday.

On weekdays he stayed in bed during the only time in the afternoon when we could go to the stores, and then I had no transportation at all after he left for work.  Even if I were more used to driving, there would be no car for me to use.

I sure didn’t want to borrow my parents’ car or have them drive me, and have them find out where I was going and, possibly, why.  What the heck did he expect me to do?

We slept late Sunday mornings, often getting up in the afternoon, so it wasn’t like he was suffering from a lack of sleep.

Oh, yeah, it’s so frickin’ unreasonable to ask, on one of your very last weekends in a big city for some time, to ask to be taken shopping on the only possible day of the week since you sleep till 2pm every day, because you’re so frickin’ tired in the middle of a Sunday afternoon after sleeping 9 hours until probably 1 or 2 pm!

In fact, his obstinance makes me wonder if he was trying to sabotage the very birth control he insisted we use. 

Or if he had decided to resist every single thing I’d ever ask for, to punish me, manipulate me into anal/oral sex, and establish his dominance as the king of our household, while I was just a lowly female who had no right to get anything she wanted.

If I could go back in time and talk to my younger self, I would say,

“Are you sure you want to marry him legally when he won’t even do anything for you without you nagging him, if he resists every single thing or bit of help you ask for, if he criticizes everything you do, but then tries to force you into things that hurt or disgust you?  This is a bad sign!

“If he’s engaged to you, if he even says he’s your husband, if he truly loves you, then he has a certain obligation to you.  If you need something, it’s his place to help you.  He doesn’t want to face up to any of his responsibilities.  Are you sure he even cares much about you anymore?”

Anyway, finally he took me out.  I saw him looking at the condoms, and said, “Aren’t you glad you don’t have to use those?”

He said that actually, he wished he could use them, because he wouldn’t have to worry so much about me getting pregnant.  So….Why didn’t he change his mind and let us use condoms instead of this weird natural family planning we didn’t even understand?

We found no pH paper anywhere.  I didn’t know if you could even get it anywhere.  I thought you should be able to, because chemistry sets are common childhood toys.

According to the parenting book I mentioned in the June section, kits for checking mucus were supposed to be available in any drugstore, but we found nothing but one-time-use kits that were very expensive (about $20) and hardly practical for daily use.

I didn’t know how I was going to test the cervical mucus without pH paper or kits, because just testing the consistency didn’t work.  It all looked the same to me.  I had no one to tell me I was doing it wrong.

(I finally got ahold of some pH paper in 1997: Cugan found it at a science surplus store in Milwaukee, and got me five vials, because we wanted to use it when we got married.  But then, in the universe’s typical ironic fashion, I was diagnosed with a hormonal imbalance and had to go on the Pill to regulate it.)

In May or June, we tried calling a local natural family planning clinic (something we looked for but didn’t find in S–) but there was no answer.  Plus Phil was afraid to call them now, because we weren’t legally married.  He thought they wouldn’t want to tell us until we were, because it would encourage us to have sex before the wedding.

But turns out, that fear was groundless: You have to get used to the routine and your cycle and know what you’re doing, before you start depending on natural family planning.  I wonder if he really feared this, or was, again, trying to sabotage the NFP.

One day he said to me, “Maybe we should have sex less often–there’s less risk of pregnancy that way, and it’ll also be more special.”

It seems innocent enough, right?  Like a sweet idea?  Yet no more than maybe two weeks later, I found out from his actions what he really meant: that he was tired of me not being submissive enough to my master husband, and wanted to divorce me.

Another thing that, looking back, was fishy: In August we watched Mrs. Doubtfire.  I expected Sally Field’s character to fall back in love with Robin Williams’ character, the usual Hollywood happy ending, and was shocked when this didn’t happen.  I also didn’t like what she said, that, “I’m a better person when I’m not around you.”  I didn’t like that Williams’ character told a child that, “Sometimes parents are better people when not around each other.”

To me, who had grown up in a strict religious background, this all sounded like the Devil’s lies, trying to justify divorce and breaking up the home, putting a warm-fuzzy, happy-sounding, new agey appearance on divorce, when what’s needed is counseling and work to save the marriage.

I talked about this a bit with Phil, who always agreed with me that divorce should be avoided at all costs, and is a sin except in extreme cases (i.e., adultery, desertion, abuse).  He said the movie was trying to be realistic by not showing the couple getting back together, because that often doesn’t happen in real life.  That seemed reasonable enough.  But then he said, “After all, sometimes people are better people when they’re not around each other.”

I said that it just wasn’t a good enough reason for divorce.  It wasn’t biblically based: Christ never said, “But then, if you don’t get along, if you’re annoyed by the person, it’s okay to leave them in the dust and divorce them.”  No, he said quite the opposite.  His change of mind about divorce made me nervous.  Keep in mind that he was a Catholic, which is even stricter about divorce.

Now, I see it as him making the decision to divorce me several weeks before he actually did, then using a movie to justify it.

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 Mindscrews Me: changes history, blames me for things that were not my fault, treats me like an idiot during games–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–August 1994, Part 3

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.

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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