The night after Phil and I got back together, my suitemates threw a party for us “summer birthdays.” Those of us with summer birthdays had to stay out of the apartment between five and seven, while the others got the place ready for us.
I thought Phil would show up during the party. He had a date for the following night with the sixteen-year-old (I guess she was now seventeen) who kept calling him when he had a girlfriend.
He made the date while we were broken up; he said it would be platonic, and he would tell her we were back together again. Because of this, I didn’t mind so much.
Possibly during the party, Charles saw my videotape collection (Dr. Who, Gone With the Wind, Monty Python, etc.), cried out, and wanted to know who owned it. It impressed him.
He also admired my book collection, which included Dr. Who and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books. (In October, he started reading my new copy of the fifth book in the Hitchhiker’s series. However, I don’t think he finished it.)
Phil was gone for an awfully long time.
We had a fun party. We even went outside on the little porch with the nice railing, tied balloons on Tara’s hair, and took pictures of her.
The Director of Safety and Security came by and said this was an “unauthorized social gathering,” too many people and not cleared by Memadmin, so we’d better go back inside and break up the party.
So we went inside, and instead turned on an audiotape of the Roanoke choir singing “The Messiah.” If he came back, we’d say we were rehearsing choir songs.
We later found out he thought there was alcohol, but there wasn’t. We could have as many people as we liked, as long as there was no drinking. Otherwise, it would have to be cleared with Memadmin. We didn’t drink at our parties, so this was funny.
Now that we were twenty-one, there might be a wine cooler or a strawberry daiquiri or the new drinks with the risqué names Sex on the Beach or Sloe Screw, but that was it. I only drank pop.
During this party, we also played Phantom of the Opera music. Mike turned on a Barry White CD to demonstrate to non-choir people what Derek had done on the last choir tour: Mike turned on the song “Feels So Good” and played the first few notes–Duhduh-duhduh-duh–then Barry’s words “Feels so good.” Then Mike pushed the reverse button, and did this over and over again, replaying that first part over and over.
Derek made a tape of himself doing this over and over and over again, and played the tape over and over on the spring choir tour. This drove everyone crazy. The choir people, Mike especially, adopted this as a catch phrase–or perhaps, catch tune.
There were other couples at this party–Jennifer with the same Jason whom Catherine and Cindy had dated, Charles with Trina. I felt lonely and depressed, almost as if I had no one, even though I was now back together with my Phil. I didn’t know why I felt that way.
When Phil finally came near the end of the party, he told me the date was not the next night but this night, so that was where he had been all this time–at a coffeehouse with that other girl.
The coffeehouse was her idea: Her generation seemed to like those old-fashioned beatnik turtleneck coffeehouses, which were now coming back in style. He told her we were back together, and she said she wasn’t surprised.
He looked odd in the black turtleneck he put on to “fit in” at the coffeehouse. He left soon after, and kept waving and waving to me from his van as he left the parking lot by the apartments, the kind of thing he used to do. It was funny.
One evening in the Pub, there was some sort of party. Phil and I were there, as were James and Persephone. Persephone came over to me, and smiled and looked surprised when I told her Phil and I were engaged. She also said she had a crush on James.
TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL FORCE DESCRIBED BELOW
At his house one day, Phil said he almost wished we’d never slept together (even though we were married), because now he wanted all the girls he saw, and there were way too many cute freshman girls this year.
The more he talked, the more it sounded like a sexual addiction, so I begged him to get help for it. It’s one thing to enjoy sex with your wife; it’s quite another to barely be able to restrain yourself around women!
I didn’t understand such a desire, myself, because I only wanted to have sex with one man my entire life: Phil, my husband for life! And how could I be sure he’d stay faithful to me?
I had a day or two of happiness, but then started to feel a wedge between Phil and me. He was very demanding, very pushy–and his ideas, plans and opinions about various things seemed a lot different from what they were before.
For example, he said he wanted to go to Thailand for a couple of years after we got legally married, to study martial arts for movie roles. Thailand? I thought we were supposed to go to Texas!
If I didn’t want to do something he wanted to do, it meant I didn’t care like I said I did.
I felt like I was walking on eggshells, and the slightest thing might push him away. I felt I had to align all my opinions with his, do things exactly as he wanted even though I couldn’t read his mind, or he’d divorce me.
He seemed like a different person. After he broke up with me, I was a broken, submissive person who was desperate to do whatever he wanted, just to keep him from leaving again. That meant even oral sex:
One day, when he got me alone, before I had a chance to even talk to him, and without a word, he pulled down his pants.
He got a strange, angry, stern look on his face, and pushed my head down–forced, really, since I couldn’t move my head whether I wanted to or not.
I didn’t want to–it was smelly, I didn’t know if he had washed it recently, and I never liked doing this–but I did anyway, because of the unspoken but well-understood threat that he would divorce me if I didn’t.
Once, as a girl on crutches started to pass us on the sidewalk, I quickly moved to cross in front of Phil and get out of the way, so she could safely pass. But Phil put out his foot and tripped me, almost making me fall! The girl smiled at him (or maybe said “thank you”), and he smiled at her.
I didn’t understand what was going on. I complained that he tripped me, but he said he was “moving me out of the way” with his foot! He treated me like I was the rude one, like I wasn’t getting out of the way so he had to make up for it and move me!
He humiliated me in front of that girl. I burned with the injustice of being falsely accused–and tripped. I was furious with him, but he just laughed.
More gaslighting! And according to this website, tripping is one form of physical abuse.
How much farther could he have gone? How far has he gone in the 20 years since I last saw him?
Many of the emotional and verbal abuse traits in that website are also familiar, as you will see. It also says,
While physical abuse might seem worse, the scars of verbal and emotional abuse are deep. Studies show that verbal or nonverbal abuse can be much more emotionally damaging than physical abuse.
That explains why I had so much trouble getting over this, still struggling some 11 years later, when I finally wrote about it on my Myspace blog and got it out.
Once, either now or before we got back together, Phil told me his friends had been encouraging him to break up with me–something about keeping him down, not letting him do things, exaggerated junk like that.
None of which was actually true. It sounded like they thought I was the tyrant, when it wasn’t me, it was Phil.
The reasons were stupid and it sounded like they had no idea what was really going on. My dad told me on the phone that in these situations, “The worst thing you can do is listen to your friends.”
It’s also quite possible that Phil made this up, another common tactic used by abusers to make you think you’re the problem because everybody says so.
Either that, or he smeared me to them, too, a common abusive tactic to discredit the victim. I went into this earlier: It’s called torture by triangulation.
On the night of the 24th, Phil, Pearl and I hung out in the living room, watching Demolition Man, Three Weddings and a Funeral, and some other movie with Rutger Hauer, the guy who played the white-haired robot from Blade Runner, playing an escaped convict in the future.
At one point there was the Chicken Movie. I don’t know what its real name was, but it was terrible, something about a plague brought on humans by crazed chickens. We called it the Chicken Movie. I don’t think we could watch the whole thing.
Phil brought a plastic bowl and a spoon from home for soup, which was his dinner, but he left them there in our sink, dirty.
After Pearl went to bed, he said I was free from my vows, that I could go off with someone else if I ever wanted to.
I refused to accept the freedom. “It’s worse than any chains you could give me,” I said.
For some reason, he found this strange.
I wanted us to say our vows again, which we hadn’t done since getting back together, and I insisted so he did, but he left out the vow of “cherish” and the vow of fidelity.
He said he was having a hard time keeping to the vow to “cherish” all the time, that it might lead to infidelity, and if he was bound to those vows he might end up hating me. He wanted to be sure of them before he said them again legally.
He couldn’t be in my bedroom, but wanted to have sex with me on the couch. I didn’t want to because I thought the others would be disgusted if they ever found out.
But he laid on a guilt trip, when I was already afraid of losing him if I didn’t do as he commanded or agree with all his opinions: “That just means you don’t really want to sleep with me. Everyone else who’s ever wanted me didn’t care where it was.”
So I slept with him there, to prove I did want him.
You see how he manipulated me into going against my conscience, forcing me through guilt and intimidation (the ever-present threat of losing him again) to be inconsiderate of my roommates.
Ever after, I sometimes sat on that couch and remembered what happened. It made me shudder, so most of the time I blocked it out.
It was because of him staying over that my roommates decided we must all clear it before someone’s boyfriend or friend stayed overnight. They didn’t like seeing him there on the couch in the morning, and hadn’t expected it.
One day, as I sat with my friends, Phil came over and needed some money for lunch, so I gave it to him. He said with a smile as he sauntered off, “You’re a saint–sometimes.” What is this “sometimes,” another criticism because I’m not subservient?
Another time, while we were on the sidewalk by Muehlmeier, he got down on his knees and begged me for five dollars. I gave it to him–but never saw it again, and didn’t bother asking for it. This may have been Wednesday or Thursday.
On Tuesday, September 27, I had a meeting scheduled with the counselor at one p.m. I told Phil right before that I would go see her, but tell her it was the last meeting I needed, and it might be short or it might not. I might cancel it. I didn’t know how long it would be. I made this very clear to him–so I thought.
I told the counselor Phil and I were back together, so I wouldn’t need any more meetings. She didn’t let me go that quickly, though: She gave me tips on conflict resolution, and a name of a book: Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. I had never heard of this book before.
Our discussion ended up taking the full hour. Once, we heard a deep voice outside the door, but I didn’t think it was his. The meeting ended and I left.
Phil came to me, furious. He chewed me out for taking so long. It was his voice outside the door.
I said, “I told you I might stay the whole time!”
“You took so long! You said you’d just go for a few minutes and cancel. I asked some people where the counselor’s office was, and they didn’t think anyone was in there because they didn’t see the light through the door.”
“I told you I might stay the whole time. I said I didn’t know how long I’d be!”
It didn’t matter. He stayed mad at me, and I didn’t deserve it. For being so affectionate the first few days we were back together, he had turned so distant–and no matter what I did, it was wrong, even if I had little or no control over it (the length of the meeting).
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)
Table of Contents
December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?
April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign
October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:
Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams
June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:
July & August 1994: