opposite-sex friends

Jealousy Leads to Murder

From the article Husband Charged in Killing of Wisconsin Officer:

An Iraq war veteran told detectives that he stalked his wife for several days while she was patrolling the streets of the Milwaukee suburb where she was a police officer, then ambushed her in the early hours of Christmas Eve and killed her, according to prosecutors.

Ben Gabriel Sebena, 30, was charged Thursday with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of his wife, Jennifer Sebena, who was found dead in front of Wauwatosa’s fire station by her fellow officers before dawn on Monday. She was shot five times in the head.

During the interview, Ben Sebena “stated that he had been jealous of other men with regards to his wife,” the complaint said.  Less than three weeks before she died, Jennifer Sebena told a colleague that her husband had acted violently toward her and put a gun to her head, prosecutors said.


MILWAUKEE (AP) — An Iraq War veteran accused of fatally shooting his wife, a Milwaukee-area police officer, last year has pleaded guilty to a homicide charge.  Thirty-year-old Ben Sebena originally pleaded insanity to first-degree intentional homicide.

But two doctors agreed that while he has significant mental health issues, they don’t rise to the level of supporting an insanity plea.

Sebena was convicted Wednesday afternoon in Milwaukee. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Prosecutors will recommend Sebena be eligible for parole in 50 to 60 years.

The criminal complaint says Sebena acknowledged ambushing 30-year-old Jennifer Sebena while the Wauwatosa police officer was conducting a pre-dawn patrol alone on Christmas Eve. Ben Sebena told investigators he was a jealous husband and had been stalking her.  —SOURCE


An Iraq War veteran who ambushed and killed his police officer wife last Christmas Eve was sentenced Friday to life in prison for gunning down the woman he called his “one love,” and the earliest he could be eligible for parole is in 35 years……

“What you did was the worst of the worst,” Borowski told Ben Sebena before handing down the sentence. “You took from this earth the person who probably loved you more than anyone, even more than your parents. You’ve shaken an entire community and destroyed two families.” —SOURCE


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

The Pump Blows Up 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shawn Breaks Our Friendship and Departs 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning Spanish 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

Female Friends Chased Off by Controlling Girlfriends/Wives: I’m Not the Only One: Monday’s Annie’s Mailbox

While reading Monday’s Annie’s Mailbox, and the reader comments down below, I discovered that my situation with Richard is far more common than I thought:

Not only is letter writer #1 a woman with a platonic guy friend who is now being pushed out and yelled at by the guy’s girlfriend, but readers are sharing their own such experiences in the comments.

One commenter, nanchan, has gone through this twice, and her theory is that guys will put up with a lot more crap from their women as long as they keep getting laid on a regular basis.

It’s actually comforting in a way to know that I’m not the only one who’s been through this–and that it seems to have gone no better for others than for me.  That the only thing the female friend can do is let him make his choice, because she can’t force him to stop his girlfriend/wife from controlling his life.  In other words, it’s not me.

And the common consensus in the comments is that no, it’s not right, it’s abusive, for a woman to hold so tightly to her man that she chases his friends away.  Nanchan also notes that the common assumption, that the female friend must be distorting the situation because she wants the guy for herself, “feeds people like Lacey.”  Some quotes:

Naturally, when I first met Lacey, I was friendly. But there was something about her that put me off.

Almost as soon as Luke started seeing her, she got him into partying all night and doing hard drugs and began alienating him from his friends and family.

Despite our efforts to tell him that he was heading down a dark path, he ended up getting fired. Then he stopped contacting me.

After I hadn’t heard from him for two months, Luke called and said he missed our friendship and wanted to talk things out. He sounded like a broken man. I was thrilled that he was coming around.

But shortly after he called, I got a nasty text from Lacey demanding that I stop speaking to Luke and saying he’s her man and she doesn’t want any other woman around him.

I was startled and angered by her rudeness and told her that Luke is my friend and I have every right to talk to him. I told her to calm down and grow up.  (Letter Writer)

Lacey is isolating Luke from friends and family, which is descriptive of an abusive relationship, and it doesn’t help that he is using drugs. (The Annies)

It’s too bad about Luke that he is placing all his love and allegiance to a control freak like Lacey, but there’s nothing you can do. Luke is a full-fledged adult.

…I can see why you responded to Lacey the way you did, and frankly, I don’t think it would have made any difference. If you had acted totally supportive of Lacey, I am positive she would have still been suspicious of you.

Lacy is immature, selfish, controlling and very insecure. If you had gotten into a tug-of-war over Luke’s affections, you certainly would have lost.  (JustWinBaby)

Oh dear. I went through a similar thing this past year and I know exactly how you feel.  In my case, the friend was a coworker.

He was the nicest guy in the world, but he had a girlfriend who was just this side of hell. The real problem was (as JustWinBaby put it) she was so insecure that she never let that poor guy alone.

She called him at least 5 times a day (during meetings, lunch, etc) and had him on a leash that was about an inch long. Forget after work activities, she wouldn’t let him do anything with us without her along….

Then she started texting me. After text two of threats to me, I texted back that the next text would be a call to the police on my end. She texted back, I called the cops, the cops went to her work and confronted her in front of her boss and coworkers. The texts stopped….

I came to realize the following (based on his situation and a similar one I had with another guy friend’s girlfriend a few years back)  1. Most men will tolerate a LOT of crap from women if they are getting regular sex.

I’m sorry, that sounds like a sexist statement, but I really believe it’s true. Many men will tolerate MORE abuse than a woman would if the sexes were reversed simply because they are getting laid.

2. Women like Lacey are deathly afraid of ANY woman who is in the orbit of their man and will stop at nothing to keep their hooks in. This includes belittling the friends of their man, and harassing them.

Their men won’t notice or will pretend not to notice so that they can continue to keep the peace and get laid….

So, how can a girl FRIEND help? Here’s my suggestions for the LW.

1. Keep tabs on Luke through external sources for now. He won’t give you his new cell phone number and yes, his girlfriend likely blocked you from his email accounts.

My coworker’s girlfriend read all his email and answered as if she was HIM. You will not get through to him but you can, discreetly, from time to time, ask mutual friends how he is doing….

With the friend I went through this with a couple of years ago (I’ve written about him here before), the situation with his abusive girlfriend changed the entire dynamic of our relationship and we are still in recovery from her and her crap.

He broke up with her almost 3 years ago, and it’s really just been in the last six months that we’ve gotten back to be close. I don’t think I’ll ever be as close to him as I was. Sad but true.  (nanchan)

While I’m at it, I take exception to the line from your post “assuming the LW is being accurate (and isn’t distorting the situation to make Lacey look bad because she was secretly in love with Luke),”

That type of mentality is EXACTLY what feeds people like “Lacey”. They ASSUME (as do many posters BTL) that any woman who is friends with a man only does so because she wants to be that man’s woman. NOT SO!

In both situations I went through (the one a few years ago and the one this past summer), I worked with the guys. I liked them both as friends and valued their professional contributions.

Do we talk about stuff other than business? Sure!

One of these guys is the one who I wrote about a few days ago as being “emotionally incested” by his mother. He and I are close like brother and sister: we come from the same part of the country, have similar interests. But we would NEVER date each other.

You know, we get a lot of posts here from women who think any time a man goes to lunch with another woman he works with it must be because he’s having an affair with her.

THOSE posters have a lot more in common with people like Lacey than they will want to admit. It is JUST as controlling as a man telling a woman the same thing and just as WRONG.

It is only when we start to realize that abuse goes both ways and that all abuse needs to be addressed that we can start to effectively handle it.  (nanchan)

Also see my post Isolation of Abuse Victims.

Spring Break; My Drawings of Ann Radcliffe Characters; I’m Cold to Shawn and it Bugs Him; the Power Goes Out–and the Water–in an Ice Storm–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke: Or, How NVLD Affected My Life–March 1993, Part 2

Spring Break; My Drawings of Ann Radcliffe Characters

Spring Break was Saturday, March 20 through Sunday, March 28.  I had a lot of homework over the break, including a paper for my Space presentation.  But I also had time to start reading First Love by Turgenev, which I found in the Campus Shoppe in the textbook section, and The Italian by Ann Radcliffe, the same woman who had written Mysteries of Udolpho (from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey).

I drew pictures of the characters.  For The Italian, I based Vivaldi on pictures I found in a World Book encyclopedia article on Italy, and I based Ellena’s nose on a picture of a Grecian nose.  (This matched her description.)

My friend Becky saw the picture of Ellena and said she looked just like Eleni Andros Cooper, a beautiful, Greek character on the soap opera Guiding Light.  I had never seen this woman before.  (Cooper, by the way, was played by Melina Kanakaredes, who later starred in Providence.)  My pictures are below:






I didn’t want to go back to school.  I didn’t know why.  Maybe I was just tired, and one week was not enough rest.  I was sick of my problems.

I wanted a guy, but at the same time I didn’t.  I wanted James, but at the same time I wanted to wait for things with Shawn to work themselves out.

Since Peter and I could now say “hi” to each other again, that wasn’t the spirit-zapper.  The culprit was probably the whole Shawn-situation, from start to present.  As I wrote in my diary, part of the problem was his judgmental attitude about me:

judging me to be what I’m not and/or certainly don’t intend to be, and saying his own opinion of me turns him off, even though his own opinion sounds so faulty to me and to so many others…

but just the fact that he’ll ask me over to play let’s-pretend-we’re-going-out, then tell me, as soon as he’s gotten what he wants, that he doesn’t want me.  How does he expect that to make me feel?!

Then he’ll criticize me for this and that, even when his own so-called ‘advice’ is probably not appropriate or even adapted to me!  How can he know what’s right for me?  I just get so angry.  I cry out to God for help and comfort.

So finally, I was furious at Shawn, which was necessary to help me break free of him.

I was so depressed that I didn’t want to do much of anything, except escape to the world of books.  Except for music, videos and probably writing, no other worlds appealed to me now.  I wished I could put studying and working on hold for a while.

But back to school I had to go.

It was time to apply for a work-study job for junior year.  To apply, you checked off the jobs you wanted out of a list on a form.  I did not check off Food Service.  I preferred the library, but had to apply for two other things as well.

I interviewed for all three.  The two clerical jobs didn’t interest me as much after the interviews.  I interviewed for the library job on April 27.  I was one of the first people to interview, if not the first.  The head librarian said she usually gave the job to the first six people who showed up.  So I was in, and of course, I took it.

It was just what I wanted: a job with my beloved books, where I could do homework when nothing was going on.  When I did have something to do, it usually involved books, magazines or newspapers.  And I could wear whatever I wanted to, even shorts.


MTV came out with a new cartoon, Beavis and Butthead.  Ren and Stimpy became more of a kids’ show, and was soon supplanted.

At first, I didn’t like Beavis and Butthead, especially after they executed a grasshopper with a chainsaw and sliced up Beavis’ hand.

I saw the infamous episode which supposedly inspired some kid to set fire to his house, and was never aired again.

It was funny to hear the fire-obsessed Beavis say, “Fire!  Fire!  Fire!”

In another episode, he watched a video of a fire-engulfed guy running down a street (“California” by Wax).  He could only sit there in convulsions.  After the show got censored, he said, “We’re not supposed to say that word.”

The show drew lots of criticism, even though it wasn’t meant for kids, so it soon got censored heavily.  Nowadays, after so many years of shows like South Park, you wonder what the fuss was about, why they gave in so readily to criticism.  So somebody didn’t like the fire references–so frickin’ what?


One day, in an 80s flashback show, MTV showed the Police video “Don’t Stand so Close to Me.”  Now I was old enough to understand it, and even knew that “the famous book by Nabokov” was Lolita.

The VJ said that when the song came out, there had been a big controversy about whether or not students should date teachers.  The final decision was that it’s okay if the teacher doesn’t have that student in a class.

This was only one warning sign against pursuing Wesley.  Along with what happened to Craig, there was another: An episode or two of Class of ’96 showed one character sleeping with her teacher and getting in trouble for it.

I don’t know when my friend dated Wesley–it could have been fall semester–but it’s funny to think I had so many warning signs, while she just went ahead and dated him.


On Friday, February 12, I wrote in my Media class journal about a new video Clarissa and I had just seen: “Funky Ceili” by Black 47.  VJ’s said the song was popular with young people, though I only heard it on MTV and Chicago’s Q101.

Clarissa and I loved it because Black 47 was an Irish band.  Here we’d just been learning about Irish culture over Winterim, and this video comes on using words like “da,” “porter,” “stout,” and “jigs and reels.”

The music mixed traditional Celtic folk instruments with modern rock stylings.  And the song was funny.  Clarissa and I got to watch the video quite a bit over the next few months.

The song was about the lead singer’s ex-girlfriend.  He lost his job, found out she was pregnant, and had to tell her “da.”  The da gave him two choices: stay in Ireland and get castrated, or go to New York.  (What about a third option: marrying Bridie?)  At least, that’s the story in the song.  The singer lamented over losing Bridie and wanted her to come to New York.

I thought it was sweet; I hoped the video would get them back together; I wondered if Bridie was the girl in the video.

Years later at Summerfest in Milwaukee, though, I picked up another CD by Black 47, and read in the lyrics to “Green Suede Shoes” that “Bridie” got the singer into deep trouble with Bridie and her family.  Also, reading the real story in the singer’s autobiography, showed that the only resemblance to reality was her name.

I’m Cold to Shawn and it Bugs Him

Diary entry for March 30:

I’ve, just today, recorded “Jeremy” and “Ordinary World” (the videos), back to back.  Why do I like them so much?  Because they’re me, for one thing.

I like the second one because of Clarissa, first of all, but maybe my subconscious picked up on the personal meaning before my conscious did.

“Jeremy” is me in my childhood, especially elementary school and junior high.  “O.W.” was me right after Peter, but now it’s me with Shawn.

You should’ve seen Shawn tonight at Bible study.  I was half-hoping he would come.  About twenty minutes into it, he came, and I cringed.  I kept my jacket closely wrapped around me in the cold room, to hide my figure.  I had trouble looking at him or laughing at his jokes, especially at first.

Then he started a long speech that started off with, “The big trouble on this campus is acceptance.”  I looked at him as he talked–right into his eyes, because most of the time he was looking right at me.

I remember this more than what he was saying, but I think he was talking about such things as people wanting to be accepted, and people avoiding and not wanting to talk to certain individuals (even then, I didn’t see the connection).

Clarissa tells me that another time, when she thinks I was looking down instead of at Shawn, out of the corner of her eye she saw him staring at me.  Then he saw her, and looked away.  I might’ve caught this, even, by glancing up once.

I never greeted him or said good-bye.  I was thinking and hoping he might either try to talk to me afterwards or call me up later, but it’s 12:34 and he didn’t do either.

When I told a friend my plans to avoid him, she said, Yeah, treat him like you did Peter, and see if he comes after you; if he doesn’t, you’re better off….I think he might.

And she also said, when I said I thought I saw signs that he liked me, “You probably did.”  But she can’t figure him out, either.

Why do I believe him so easily?  I feel so gullible….Once, when I rushed downstairs (where he was) to go to the bathroom, he said “hello” (maybe to be funny; we’d been in the same room for 45 minutes already), and I said nothing.  –12:43am

It doesn’t matter how long you pray, but that you do it and that you get something out of it….

I have to act this way so I can see if Shawn comes after me and proves to truly be my friend.  But I hope he does so soon!

Oh, the agony of my heart, seeing him help Pearl with her crutches without being asked, and hearing them talk about a couple weeks ago when he lifted her scooter out of a snowdrift, with them not being around to tell him a much easier way to do it, pushing a certain button.

Seeing a guy do such helpful things, like when Peter helped the blind girl, seems to be high on my subconscious list of what makes my heart go pitter-patter….

Sometimes, the friends you’re always with know you better than you know yourself, or else why bother asking them what your faults are?  So I trust the opinions of my closest friends.

But Shawn isn’t with me so much, and he’s proven himself and admitted himself to be wrong about me in one way or another, so why trust him over Pearl, Rachel, Sharon or my roommate Clarissa?   –1:59am

Diary entry for March 31:

I saw Peter yesterday [by the Campus Center] and said hi, and I think he smiled and said, “Hi, how ya doin’?”–except I had my headphones on, and I don’t think I caught it in time to answer.

What I want is for Shawn to realize how much he’s hurt me and that it’s going to take something special to fix that.

Tonight at dinner, Shawn was sitting at the same table as I went to sit at.  When I got to my strawberry shortcake, everyone but him and Clarissa had left.  Then she got up, probably to take her tray up.  She thought I might not like being left alone with him.  She seemed to be away for a long time.

After a silent minute or two, during which I ignored him and ate my cake, he said, “So how ya doin’, Nyssa?”

I sat silent for a moment, contemplating whether or not I should answer, then I shrugged my shoulders as a half-answer.  Then, to make sure he knew I had answered, I mumbled, “not too good.”

After all, I’d just come from a meeting with the counselor, which mostly dealt with my relationship with him.

Then Clarissa came back, and she thought he seemed to want to get away.  (She also didn’t see him stare at me during dinner; it seemed to her that he was trying to avoid me.)

He said to her, “Are you going to stay here and keep Nyssa company, Clarissa?  ‘Cause I have to go.”  I grumbled, “Don’t let me keep you.”

Yes, I was offended.  [My translation of it was] “You’re not secure enough to eat by yourself; somebody has to keep you company.”

It’s not just what he said, but a compound of things he’s said in the past in different situations, that gave me such an impression, such an interpretation of what he said now.    –1:03am

My counselor wanted to talk with Shawn to get his side of the story, and he agreed it was a good idea.  He was supposed to show up at one of my counseling sessions, but never did.  He later gave some reasons, I forget what, but it upset me.

The Power Goes Out–and the Water–in an Ice Storm

On Wednesday, March 31, there was an ice storm.  At about 9:30 and right in the middle of the latest episode of Star Trek: TNG, most of the power went out, leaving on only our two desk lights.  Then even they went out.  Soon after that, the water went out because it came from a well and required a pump.  The rooms grew cold.

We all gathered into the suite lounge.  I brought my afghan and can of pop, put away the bag of M&M’s I was eating, and sat on the couch with my rechargeable flashlight ready for use.  Our suitemates put on coats and snuggled into blankets.

Daphne, the RA, got freaked out all alone in her suite, and came over to ours.  My suitemates lit candles, contraband but useful.  A couple of guys dropped by and kept going in and out of the suite.

Some guy we didn’t know looked in the window and said something.  Daphne told Clarissa to shine her flashlight in his face and ask what he wanted.  Clarissa did; he said something else and left.  It was funny.

I’ve mentioned before that Georgina, a sweet and beautiful girl with a gorgeous soprano voice, was unfortunately still hung up on her ex-boyfriend, the brother of my pledge sister Jennifer.  He called and told her about a tornado warning, so we searched for information on the radio.  We found none, so we assumed there wasn’t one.

This was Hell Week; the fraternity and sorority pledges kept shouting their little chants and making noise.  Somebody probably yelled at them to shut up, a common thing.

The ice storm had trampled down a wire, and a transformer blew up.  Only the emergency lights in a few buildings were on.  We were told the transformer probably wouldn’t be fixed until three or four the next afternoon!

We prepared for a night and morning of no electricity or water.  At least Clarissa had two milk jugs of spring water, so we could wash our hands after using the toilets.  The toilets started filling up and getting really nasty.

We played a game called Outburst, then went to bed, Daphne staying over.  I went to bed a little after 12, and had been asleep for about half an hour or more when light woke me up.

Was it morning already?  I looked at my watch–it was only 12:56am!  The power had come back on, after all.  I went and flushed one of the toilets, Clarissa and I plugged a few things in, and we went back to bed.

We expected our classes to be cancelled, the same as for the local public schools, but they weren’t.



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:


Shawn Rips Me Apart for NVLD traits; School Scandal–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–March 1993, Part 1

School Scandal

On the 1st, I noted in my diary the one-year anniversary of the physical relationship with Shawn, since it started on Leap Day, 1992.


Crystal Pepsi came out around this time, and I tried it.  I believe it was much like Pepsi–but I didn’t like Pepsi.  I drank it just to find out if it truly tasted the same, despite being clear.  It soon disappeared from the market.


During one of my counseling sessions, I said Shawn always tried to change me, but I wouldn’t change unless I felt it necessary.  The counselor called that a healthy attitude.

I now read Hermann Hesse’s Narcissus and Goldmund, which I found in the Campus Shop.  This book was a great help.  I read it late at night, while Alternative Nation was on, the room was darkened, and my roommate slept without her hearing aid.  Sometimes, the window was open.

This late-night setting and the book itself took me to a place where boy trouble and other problems didn’t matter.  One character, Goldmund, made observations about life that I’d made myself, or agreed with.  I kept seeing myself in Goldmund, a budding artist looking for himself.  He wandered the German landscape, a metaphor for restlessness and wandering the landscape of life and self.

The book was set around the year of the Black Death, so Sting’s new video, “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” was timely.  (This video was set in medieval times.)  Funny how I didn’t much care for the song when I first heard it on the radio, but after I saw that video, the song became one of my all-time favorites.

Goldmund’s passion sounded like mine: He loved to draw things, such as people’s heads, and make up animals, just as I liked to draw heads and make up alien languages.  Like me, he thought love was more important than anything else.

The swarming fish on page 186, poking their heads up to eat a piece of bread, reminded me of the fish at Indiana Beach.

(Those fish would eat anything you tossed at them–even spit.  This is Indiana Beach, though in those days it was just a little amusement park with short lines and cheap rides, no resort, no water park, no campgrounds, no Adventure Point.  Though I see they still have some of the same rides, such as the Seadragon and the Galaxi.)

On page 195, his tendency to forget everything about the world while engrossed by his drawing and endless walking, reminded me of myself when I was deep into reading, writing, or thinking.

After one of these late-night readings, I wrote this poem:

The music of the night
drifts through my window,
The gentle wind and soft, earthy smells,
the warmth and the insomniac birds’ songs.
Each note carries a hint of oneness
with everything.
The song of the ages,
the melting together of all experience,
The one song all romantics hear.


We often found chalk drawings and messages on the sidewalks, advertising campus events or put there as pledge pranks.

Once, the Zetas made chalk outlines showing some pretty horrific things: heads removed, limbs removed, hands or feet removed.  They were also pretty comical, since it was obviously a joke.  One of these chalk drawings was of Paul and his dog Maizie.

The college now had a young social sciences teacher named Craig.  One day, we found chalk protests written all over the sidewalks: “Save Craig!”  The college had decided not to allow him back the next year.

I didn’t know Craig or the reasons for his dismissal, so I didn’t get involved.  I heard rumors, but they weren’t confirmed for me until 2006:

Rachel knew a senior girl who got involved with Craig.  He was single, she was about to graduate, and he was fresh out of graduate school (therefore, they were close in age), but the college refused to relent.


Darryl decided to leave the Zetas over problems he had with them.  I don’t remember now what all they were, but he was upset that minors at parties would be given alcohol.  There were probably other things as well.

It was a big surprise, and even my sorority friends were glad.  A week or two before, he and Steve even came to Bible Study.

Shawn Rips Me Apart for NVLD Traits

On March 20, I wrote in a letter to a friend,

But it seems like, in the past couple weeks, [Shawn’s] mood has darkened and he’s even avoided me a few times and gotten upset at me for one thing or another.  If we were going out, I’d say we were headed for a breakup.  Instead, the friendship is threatened with breakup.

I do find it interesting that this happened after our physical relations had ceased.

On Tuesday (the 16th), when I was telling him the good news about me finding myself–through my time alone at night reading, writing and listening to music, and something he’d wanted me to do–he somehow turned the conversation to yet another list of my “faults.”

He seemed to have a gift for that, even though he didn’t seem to be such a good judge of character as he thought he was.

It was a long list, and I must say he later apologized for unloading all those things on me at once.  He said these were the real reasons why he didn’t want to be my boyfriend, and that the reasons weren’t going to change to different things, like they had so often before.

The things were very much condemning of me as a person.  It devastated me because I wanted to be a good person who cared for others, helped them, was considerate, was sweet and kind….

But he made me sound like an evil bitch who treats people like dirt.  I felt like a terrible person, and thought I recognized those things in myself, but he gave me a hug of support as I tried to “change.”

He told me I should ask my friends for the specific examples he didn’t have time to give, and suggested things I should say.  So you see I was in a receptive mood, willing to accept and change faults, wanting the truth and not people’s consoling words.  He did this now, so he said, because I had an outlet in counseling.

So, after class when I went to see the counselor, I told her what he’d said.  Her reaction made me begin to doubt him, but I still felt like a terrible person.  I even tried to convince her that what he said was true.

She couldn’t see me being those things, but I still felt I had to see what my friends would say before I’d completely change my view.  If I really was an evil witch, then I wanted to change it, not listen to people tell me I wasn’t really like that.

I talked to Pearl for three hours in the Phi-Delt room after my night class (Astronomy), and really began to doubt his impressions.  She said maybe some things were based on misunderstandings.

He’d said other people had the same impressions but were afraid to depress me by telling me, even though they were still my friends; Pearl said maybe he misunderstood them, too.

I also spoke to Clarissa, who knew me better than anybody else on that campus, being my roommate for many months now–and even she disagreed, felt that he was being mean to me.

I asked, “Do you see anything wrong with the way I treat you?”

She said, shocked, “No!”  I think she even cried a little.  She couldn’t figure out why Shawn would say these things.

I tried talking to him on the phone the next day, to find out who I was supposed to talk to and what I did to make him think these things of me, but he accused me of badgering, and it turned into an argument.

So I stopped speaking to him.  I just couldn’t stand speaking to him when I didn’t even know why he was friends with such an evil person as me, if he even was my friend in the first place.

He said he was, but the reason he gave wasn’t enough to reassure me: He just said, because I wanted him to be, otherwise he wouldn’t have bothered trying to be one.  So, I was such an evil witch that he wouldn’t have even been my friend in the first place if I didn’t want him to be?

And he couldn’t give me any concrete examples to make me understand what I did that was so evil, or give me any guidance on whom to talk to?

The one to speak to is the one I offended, not a whole bunch of people in a kind of Russian roulette to find them, that lets everybody on campus know what he said to me!  How is it “badgering” to get some answers so I can understand what I’ve done and how I can change it?

Because I had no intention of behaving so evilly to anyone, and had no clue how I possibly could have come across that way, no guidance, no memory of evil intentions or behavior to work with.  You can’t change if you don’t even know what you’ve done!

I needed the truth, I needed answers, I needed plain-speaking Rachel.  I didn’t want to get mad at Shawn for simply telling the truth, if it was indeed the truth.  If anyone would be blunt about my faults, she would be.  Even when everyone else would sympathize me about something, she would say, “Well, it was pretty stupid for you to do that.”

So next, I went to her, not telling her who the person was.  But she just widened her eyes at the list of faults and got upset, saying, “This person doesn’t really know you.  They’re probably trying to hurt you for some reason.”

She and, later, Sharon did tell me what they personally thought were faults, but they were things done by normal people, not evil witch crap like what Shawn listed.

Sharon thought he was playing with my mind.  Sharon said she could only answer for her own feelings, not for his; Pearl pointed out possible misunderstandings and how I could prevent them.

I figured these were the main people who would know, the ones I spent the most time with.  They gave me enough things to work with already, and I didn’t want to embarrass myself by going to people I didn’t know as well and telling them what Shawn said.

Rachel said not to take the things to heart, that he just didn’t know me very well, but I still cried myself to sleep Wednesday night.  

I loved him, both romantically and, most of all, as what I thought was my best friend.  But this made me feel so upset and betrayed that I couldn’t talk to him.  I didn’t want him to even come close enough to touch me.  

My heart was broken again.  I think I loved him far more than I ever had loved Peter.

He had also complained about me writing in my diary everything that happened between us.  He thought special memories should be kept in the head and not written down.  

It was an odd idea that I’d never encountered before, because even special memories begin to fade over time.  In fact, if I hadn’t written these things down, these memoirs would be far less detailed, because I had forgotten so much!  

His objection also came from his time in the mental hospital, though I won’t explain how; I had no such experience.  He asked if I worried about anybody finding it; no, I did not.  If they did, they’d realize I wasn’t as innocent as people thought, and I didn’t mind that.

After writing in my diary what happened between us Valentine’s Day and the following Monday, I wrote, as if I were addressing Shawn,

See, Shawn, I wrote both things down, finally.  And if you’re going to be like this, I hope they’re the last ‘rendezvous’ I’ll ever have to write about concerning you.

Maybe math-brains just don’t understand the writer’s need to record even the most special memories–which we don’t want to fade….

Besides, these memories are all a part of me–so I’m not about to burn them or let them fade.  I’d lose a part of myself that way….Let’s see what kind of a friend you really are, Shawn.

The things he accused me of, can also easily be explained with NVLD:

Perceptual cues serve in the same capacity as traffic signals; they govern the flow, give-and-take, and fluctuations in our conversations.

The child who cannot “read” these nonverbal cues is frequently determined to be ill-mannered, discourteous, curt, immature, lacking in respect for others, self-centered, and/or even defiant. This child is none of the above.

Like the color blind driver who cannot respond appropriately to traffic lights, this is a child who is utilizing all of the resources available to him in order to try and make sense of a world which is providing him with faulty cues and unreliable information. —Sue Thompson, Nonverbal Learning Disorders

One of his complaints over the past many months was having to wait a long time for me to answer a question.  That would probably be the NVLD, Asperger’s, and/or introversion, all of which can cause this trait, which I had always had; I have to think of what I say before I say it.

There was the time he snapped at me and called me rude for not picking up his hints that it was time for me to go home–when I caught none of them, and only heard him continuously ask me, “So what else is up?”–making me feel obligated to come up with some answer, until I finally snapped back that I was going to bed now.

He was always criticizing my shyness and reserve, when to me this was all I had ever known, and it was just as impossible for me to change it, as it is for a horse to take on zebra stripes.

He was always criticizing my hair, when I wore it that way (plain and long) because I liked symmetry, hated the feel of bangs, hated short hair, loved long hair, and did not like perms or the other hairdos of the time.  (Hair back then was still very much 80s-big hair.)

He criticized me for not wearing makeup, as if my own face were not pretty without it, when I did not like the time it took to put on makeup, and felt fake with it on.  (This was coming out of the 80s, when makeup looked very artificial, unlike now when it’s more natural-looking.)

He criticized me for not dressing sexy, when I had always been so modest that even my mother told me I should show off my figure more.  I was raised Nazarene; I did not like to show too much skin.

He criticized me for not wearing jeans, when I found jeans to be too rough against my skin, and could not stand that (an NVLD thing, with hypersensitivity to clothes).  I also did not binding, constricting or tight clothes because of how they feel against my skin, so I could not dress “sexy” in the way he would like.

And because I was not just like all the other girls, did not look like the other girls, did not dress like the other girls, did not act like the other girls, I was somehow not attractive to him, this person who could not look beyond the surface and see my natural beauty and uniqueness–but would use my body whenever it suited him.

He could not appreciate me for me, a creative, sweet, smart, loving, caring, loyal person, with a different perspective on life, who would spend my summer drawing genies and reading books and writing about desert islands, rather than reading romance novels, hanging out at the beach, working on my tan, or partying.

He could not appreciate that I would not be the kind of girl to take all his money, or be jealous of his female friends, or spend all my time at the beauty parlor/spa, or yell and scream at him and blame it on PMS.

He could not appreciate that I could spend my summers happily translating German rather than running around on him, that I would be a cheap date happy with fast food and a movie rather than some expensive restaurant.

He could not appreciate that I had faith just as he did, that my mind was full of wonder and questions about that faith, that I would study theology for fun.  Instead he said he couldn’t love me because I believed in ESP (even my pastor believed in ESP) and was too “tolerant.”  He wanted me to be like all the other girls rather than like myself.

And now he was making me into a horrible, selfish, self-centered, spoiled brat as well.  All I knew was that I tried to be good, tried to be nice, tried to think of other people, left the biggest piece of cake for the next person, just went on my merry way thinking I was harming no one, only to get accused of all these horrible things by Shawn.

I knew that I tried to let him take the lead in our relationship because of his ambivalence, out of respect for him, but then he would come over or ask me over and want me to get physical with him, so I would give in to all sorts of things he wanted me to do, to please him.

Then he would accuse me of starting things and get angry with me and tear me down, treating me like some kind of evil seductress.

It felt like what he thought was me, was actually some other person, not me at all, no matter how much I tried to protest his unfair opinions and analyses.  And it was both baffling and heartbreaking.

So if his opinions of me were totally unfair and showed a lack of knowledge of who I really was, then the thing keeping him from dating me beyond a “friends with benefits” relationship, falls down flat.

I think Shawn, for all the times I thought we had talked about ourselves and connected, closed his mind to the kind of person I really was.  He rejected me for things he said I did, but which I didn’t do at all.  He was prejudiced against me for something I was not.

The biggest question is why he would do this: Was he afraid of falling for me and then having to leave me as he did his ex-girlfriend?  Was it because of his brother’s illness?

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: