Category: psychological abuse

Struggling to move on despite the pain–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–November 1994, Part 1

At an Open Mike session one night, Dr. Nelson read a story, a long one with tons of pages, but very funny.  It was a conversation between two people.

He read quickly through each page–not too fast for comprehension, and apparently on purpose.  When he finished reading through a sheet, he tossed it on the floor.  That, as well as the story itself, was part of the hilarity and amusement of the story.

The Open Mike gatherings seemed to be quite popular that year.  I’m not sure how long they’d been around, but I believe they started in my underclassman days, when they were held in the Muskie.

They’d been well-attended in past years by students and teachers, but maybe even more now, probably because they were in the Pub where people liked to hang out day and night.

Many different people participated now, and it was no longer just a treat for writers: Singers and musicians were now welcome.  Two married teachers, who also had a band, played Celtic music one night, when the husband taught my Celtic class over Winterim.

One night, as my friends and I found seats, I caught a glimpse of Persephone sitting at the bar and Phil standing or sitting next to or behind her, his hand on her shoulder.  THAT was something I didn’t need to see!

I suppose I don’t even need to mention how incensed and upset and sick this made me.  But I just walked by them, ignoring them both, and went to a table with my friends and enjoyed the readings and performances.

I didn’t want Phil to think he could spoil my evening just by showing up with another girl.  I had to be stronger than that.

****

Most of my friends didn’t hang around with Peter much and didn’t know him very well, so didn’t often talk about him.  With Phil, however, things were very different.

My suitemates and possibly Astrid all went to town one day, Mike driving.  We stopped in a parking lot and Mike said before we got out,

“I’m mad at Phil O’Hara.  You know what he told me?  He said I shouldn’t wear my key chain necklace because it makes me look like a girl.”

This was the Roanoke Key Chain Necklace, a big blue thing, which was “high fashion” around campus.  You know, the sort of thing you see in any club or institution which gives out key cards.  Lots of people wore them, both male and female.

Pearl said, upset, “I wouldn’t trust anything Phil says about what’s manly.  What does he know about it?”

Another time, Charles said he didn’t like people forcing friendship on him.  He said Phil did this.  I believe he meant Phil always trying to talk with him when he didn’t want him to, or things like that, and people trying to be friends with him even though he sent out signals that he didn’t want to be.

****

We started giving Mike time-outs.  Whenever he got too weird and his jokes got way too weirdly dirty, someone called out, “Time out, Mike!” and he was supposed to settle down.  I didn’t do this myself, maybe because I have a high tolerance for oddballs–so much so that I married one.  🙂

A popular college myth, which we all believed, got exposed as a myth one day, probably senior year.  It was, if your roommate dies, you get straight A’s because of the emotional anguish.  It may have been the Mirror which revealed this wasn’t at all true.

I learned in 1998 that this is apparently a popular myth in colleges all over the country, because a comedy movie came out about a kid who tries to kill his roommate and make it look like a suicide so he can get straight A’s.

One Sunday evening, when snow covered the ground, Mike drove Pearl, Sharon or Astrid, and me to a church in S–.  We got lost.  Finally we found the church, but the service was already halfway done.

We found the congregation watching a movie (an actual projector-movie, not a VCR tape) about Dave Roever, who lost half his face in Vietnam but now uses this as a witness to how Christ helped him go on.

Since the lights were off, we could sneak in and hope nobody noticed us.  When the movie ended, people saw and greeted us and asked who we were.  They were excited to hear we were college students.  Did they know we came late?

Some guy called Mario became the target of cafeteria tray jokes.  I think he was in a frat.  I don’t know if he was a freshman pledge or what.  But people kept writing these awful, explicit jokes about him on the cafeteria trays.

My group tried to avoid the “Mario trays,” but it wasn’t always possible.  When we failed, we’d say, “Uh-oh, I’ve got a Mario tray.”

Our InterVarsity sweatshirts, ordered earlier in the year, now arrived.  They were dark blue with gold lettering.  The front said “InterVarsity Christian Fellowship” and had an alpha, cross and omega.

The back said, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.–Isaiah 9:2.”

They seemed to be a fashion statement for our group: One day I went to a meal and found everybody at the table wearing one, even Charles.

****

Apparently, a lot of things bugged me that semester.  I guess Phil put me into a bad mood that lasted until December: I could feel myself getting dark and maybe even turning into less of a nice and caring person than I was before.  I didn’t like it, but didn’t know what to do about it.

Phil kept sitting at our table at meals–surrounded by people who he knew disliked him–and getting cutesy with Persephone, rubbing his new relationship in my face.

Apparently his ex-wife was not worth what respect and sensitivity he once showed to his ex Tracy when he was with me.

I was mad at Phil and getting madder, a typical response to abuse of any type, and it seems this affected my attitude toward life in general.

It took time to pull out of this, and the help of a man who treated me much better, teaching me I didn’t have to be on the defensive all the time in case another guy turned out to be a Phil.

By 1999, I started to feel more like the type of person I was supposed to be.

****

As you may have noted with the story of the Halloween party in the last chapter, Pearl was finally back, but now she had to use the wheelchair again.

When she could use her scooter she was very independent, but this was the second time she had to depend on other people to get her around the campus.  Sometimes it was hard to correlate schedules to get someone to push her wheelchair.

We’d do it for her because she was our friend and we loved her, but it did make it harder for us and, I’m sure, for her.  I know I wouldn’t like having to be dependent on somebody else every time I wanted to go across campus or even to the next building.

She couldn’t go anywhere on her own because she just wasn’t physically capable of using her scooter until she got better.  (I believe this is the time they removed one of her hips, and later they gave her a replacement.)  And that wheelchair was heavy and hard to push!

I hated seeing her in this situation, and I’m sure everybody did.  We worried about her because she had to go through so much.

She was able to walk once, long ago, and she was supposedly going to be able to walk again by this year, but there were complications and it didn’t turn out that way.

(I believe her problem was rheumatoid arthritis in the legs, which caused her not only to need crutches and the scooter, but also kept her at a childlike height.)

****

It was sometimes painful to work on my novel Jerisland, but I had to because it was now my Senior Writing Project.

When I broke up with Peter, I couldn’t work on it because I had imagined the hero Stefan was like Peter.  Stefan and Jeri were supposed to be happy together forever.  Now, all summer I had imagined Stefan was like Phil.

Before, I put the breakup with Peter in Jerisland and made things happen the way I wished (at the time) that they would have happened.  Though Stefan did awful things to Jeri, he apologized and made up for them.

In this latest rewrite, Jeri became the dumper, not Stefan.  She listened to Stefan’s best friend, who tried to convince her she belonged with Stefan.

Since Stefan reminded me of Phil, and some of the things I wrote in the story came from my relationship with Phil, it was hard to write that Stefan and Jeri had a happy marriage that lasted forever.

But I had to because there was no way I wanted those two to break up.  It seemed I could never have a happy relationship that lasted for the rest of my life, but dang it, I wanted Jeri to have one with Stefan!

****

Apparently we were supposed to read shelves in the library.  I had never heard of this rule before, or that any of us had been assigned to certain shelves.  But Sharon and I started doing this together.

We basically scanned the Dewey decimal numbers to make sure the books were in order.

It could get boring quickly, but we talked about life, and the cool and old and weird and German-language books we’d find.

We even found one on Egyptian hieroglyphics.  We checked it out of the library.  We were supposed to draw up our own copy of the Egyptian alphabet, but never got around to that.  I loved working with Sharon.

I enjoyed re-shelving books.  Pulling or pushing along the book cart, going upstairs in the elevator (the only one on campus besides the one in the Wehr Center), going in among the stacks putting books away–it all made me feel so important: “I work here!”

We put the books in numerical order before taking the cart away from the circulation desk, to speed up re-shelving.

Re-shelving took me away from the desk and from life in general, sticking me in among the stacks, where I wanted to be.  I still had no clue where Tara and Sarah’s “haunted bookshelf” was.  (They said books would fall out of it.)

Sometimes I felt a little creeped out in the juvenile section, a tiny room at the very top of the building.  My friends told stories about it being haunted.

But I’d find the most wonderful and obscure books in the library, and often come back with books on the cart, to be checked out.  I loved checking my own book out rather than waiting for a clerk, writing my name on the card, putting it in the card box, and putting a date due card in the book.

Sometimes I felt light-headed and dizzy in this room.  Sometimes I wondered if I felt this way because I was pregnant.  At various times in my life, I’ve had these sudden bouts of dizziness, though they don’t last long, and I go years without feeling it again.

Of course, nowadays I am aware that my dizziness in that room could’ve been caused by elevation and an old structure.  This can also explain dizziness people sometimes feel in old houses, which they attribute to ghosts.

But it wasn’t as bad as when he first divorced me and I could barely get through my two hours (dazed or numb, Helene called it), trying to go through the card catalog doing a project we’d been given, and not go crazy with the pain, fear of losing my husband forever, and sadness.  The working day took forever in those days.

But in November, trying to get through the work day wasn’t quite so bad anymore.  Being in the stacks alone or with Sharon, though sometimes hard to handle when sad thoughts returned, was often a solace, reminding me that I belonged among books.  My purpose and calling was to read and write.

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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Fury at Phil stalking me and rubbing my face in his new relationship–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–October 1994, Part 11

I found devotional books and Bible readings, both for devotions and InterVarsity, to be soothing, a reminder that there was more to life than Phil.

I tried to get on with life and not spend too much time dwelling on the divorce.

Some say it’s bad to push your emotions down, that they come up later and don’t get better, but this was the only way I could deal with the intense pain.  I did spend at least some time trying to deal with my emotions, such as in my diary.  I tried not to talk about Phil too much.

But when I look back over how dark this time still was and how hard it was to control my hatred for Phil, I wonder if it would have been better if I’d let my grief come out freely for a time.

What made things even worse was that Phil wouldn’t leave me alone.  He’d try to talk to me, sit with me and my friends at meals even though only Persephone wanted him there, get all lovey with Persephone (holding hands, etc.) while I was sitting right there.

At the beginning of the year, I gave him my schedule; I wonder if he kept it and sometimes contrived to show up where I was.  We showed up in the same place an awful lot, not just between classes but in other parts of the school.  Once, he held the door open for me in the Campus Shop.  Sometimes I wonder if he was stalking me.

I didn’t let myself harm him or his car, didn’t threaten him or become a stalker or anything like that, since I knew it was wrong, but the struggle was so intense it frightened me.

According to Wikipedia (an earlier version of the page), being stalked can cause intense, even violent anger–just as being abused can do.  I’ve never felt this way before or since about anyone, thank God, though I came close when someone harassed my husband and our SCA group, back in 1999.

(This person–more on him here–repeatedly posted derogatory comments about the group and particular members on the group’s website, and has no qualms about using viruses to “punish” companies or corporations he feels has wronged him or someone he knows.  I suspect he even sent us an e-mail bomb, or a large amount of e-mails, all saying “karma.”  This is stalking behavior.)

[Update: This was written in probably 2006.  This guy who harassed my SCA group, was thrown in jail in 2009? for taking naughty pictures of a teenage girl.  Also, I did feel this anger again in 2010, after I was abused once again, this time by “friends,” over two and a half years.  I felt it again in 2012 when they, too, began stalking me, refused to admit wrongdoing, and threatened me.  The story begins here.]

When someone you’ve been married to and lived with all summer starts flaunting his new girlfriend to you, you feel like he’s ripped out your heart and served it back to you on a platter.  And that infuriates you.

****

Around this time, I started to distrust the stories The 700 Club ran each Halloween on the evils of rock music and heavy metal.  I once thought they found the truly bad lyrics and exposed only them.

But now that I had been listening to secular rock music again, I discovered these lyrics were subject to interpretation.  They showed part of the lyrics to the refrain of one of my favorite songs (“Man in a Box” by Alice in Chains), but took them out of context.

Some of my favorite bands were listed as “bad” when I didn’t think they were.  I complained about this to Tara as the Halloween episode aired.

Once during early fall, while Phil was gone and I was still hurting, I tried to feel better by doing good for humanity: I believe it was Circle K, James’ group, which put on a Hunger Banquet.  They had a spinner set up, and you’d spin it to see if you’d get a first, second, or third-world meal for dinner that night.  (I forget if any money went to charity or if it was just a hunger awareness thing.)

First-world got a regular cafeteria meal.  Second-world got rice and some other things.  Third-world, which I got, got only rice and water, and you had to eat it while sitting on the floor by one of walls.  I was disappointed to get this one, but it was a good experience.

****

On Halloween, I went to dinner with my roommates, preparing for another evening of InterVarsity’s annual praying for the buildings.

To my dismay, Phil sat with Persephone at our table, right across from me.  We didn’t want him there.  And Persephone seemed insensitive because she let him be there.

He started joking around, she said something, and he said to this, “She’s so demanding lately!”  It seemed suggestive.

Later on, as my friends and I got up and began leaving, I passed by the table and saw Phil and Persephone sitting across from each other.  They held hands and read from Measure for Measure playbooks, rehearsing Phil’s lines.

I believe the handholding was part of the script, but if they’d been at all sensitive, they would have done some other scene.  Instead, Phil seemed to be doing this just to make me miserable, since he didn’t even bother to wait until I left the cafeteria.

Didn’t Persephone think about how her own actions helped him to hurt me?

I felt like taking my key chain and smacking him with it, though I wouldn’t dream of actually doing that.  Even worse, I was supposed to be feeling all spiritual because it was time to pray for all the buildings.

Finally the IV group left, and I didn’t have to see him anymore.  I could just leave him in the dust.

He was obviously an insensitive lout who cared nothing for my feelings.  He must have known this would upset me.  And if that thought never crossed his mind, then he must have been very stupid.  He knew I was still hurting from the way he’d just dumped me, and he rubbed his new “love” in my face.

The dumped person has a right and almost a duty to show a dumper who’s also a jerk that they’ve moved on–that just because they were dumped, they’re not going to curl up and die, which the dumper might expect.

But the dumper has no right to hurt the dumpee with such a display.  The dumpee already is the one who hurts the most, and is going to hurt whether the dumper does or not.

Such displays only rub in more the fact that the dumpee has been rejected–basically, it’s deliberately pouring salt on a wound.

The InterVarsity group was Clarissa, Pearl, Charles, Astrid, a new member, and me.  Just in case you think this was something only Evangelicals would do, Charles was Catholic.  Pearl’s scooter did not run down this time, unlike last year, when it ran out right as we got to her dorm.

When we started out, I was still fuming about Phil’s obnoxious and jerky behavior at dinner, and didn’t feel very spiritual.  But after only two or three buildings this changed.  I felt much better by the time we finished.

Near the end, we went outside the Pub, which was dead, and sat on the benches to pray for the Campus Center.  As we did our “popcorn prayers,” basically anybody praying anything whenever, two girls–just a few yards from each other–yelled greetings to each other outside the Pub door and went inside.

Charles, who was praying, said, “I’d like to thank You that I still have my hearing.”

A few minutes later, those two girls started singing “Jesus Loves Me” at the tops of their voices.  Charles prayed for them, and we laughed that they praised God while trying to make fun of us.

I said, “If we’re being persecuted we must be doing something right.”

Astrid or Pearl said, “Thanks for the compliment, guys!”  We smiled and waved as we left.

Pearl noted that things didn’t seem so scary this time, and didn’t things change after the last time we prayed for the buildings?

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

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I feel stalked by ex Phil–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–October 1994, Part 9

Here’s a letter to the school newspaper editor in 1952, reprinted in the fall of 1994 in a special edition.  You can see things hadn’t changed much:

Would you please tell me why something hasn’t been done to solve this unfortunate transportation problem on campus?  It is a shame when a student cannot move from campus without becoming a parasite on some person owning a car.

Many college students are working at the present time to support themselves in school and thus do not find that they have the money to pay for the up-keep of an automobile.  Does this mean that they have to continually be shut within the walls of this campus?

An individual gets sick of asking a friend or acquaintance for a ride into a neighboring town or community, and so does the driver of the car get sick of hauling five or six passengers every time he leaves the campus!

This transportation problem also makes it hard for dating (a natural pastime at all colleges).  The fellows who do not own cars have no means with which to take out their girls.  On Friday and Saturday nights, when it is most likely for them to have their dates, the book store isn’t open to the students.  Where are they going to go?

Maybe a few are lucky enough to be able to double date with a friend who has a car, but maybe they are not that fortunate.  The dorms are closed to the students of the opposite sex after certain hours in the evening and therefore only one solution comes to the couple: sitting in someone else’s parked car!  It is only due to the many inconveniences around campus which force the students to take this undesired course.  Can you blame them?

It is about time for the students on this campus to get busy on solving this transportation problem.  It is a sure sign that if we don’t do it, someone else will!

(What would you do in the book store on a date, anyway?  Buy some textbooks or a college sweater?  And it’s funny because I don’t recall guys having trouble just hanging out with their girlfriends on campus.)

By our day, the campus did have shuttle vans to S– on certain days and at certain times (I think on Sunday afternoons), though it probably hadn’t started up for the year yet when I needed Phil to take me to get milk and orange juice.

I usually got haircuts and stocked up while at home on breaks so I wouldn’t run out of toiletries at school, except for ones available in the Campus Shop.  Senior year, Mike started a “shuttle service” of his own, taking a bunch of us in the Group to S– on Friday nights to go grocery shopping.  Now that we had our own kitchen, we liked to keep food in it.

As the Mirror said, some of the dorms had now put computers in the lounges for people who couldn’t get to the computer lab.  The following year, they’d even get Internet access.

Every other college in the country seemed to already have Internet access, so it’s funny to see how times have changed, reading on the Roanoke website [1998] that now they’re “one of the ‘most wired colleges’ in the nation.”  Wow, they even have access ports in the dorm rooms now!

In 1994, the Internet was only just starting to get popular, having been a little-known service for academics and government researchers before then.  Beyond users of Compuserve, Prodigy and AOL, few people had heard about it until the mid-90s.  (A source.)

****

Anna met Persephone through the Mirror, and seemed to like her.  She liked her sense of humor; Persephone would say things that made Anna look at her in surprise.  I think Anna said I was the same way.

****

Wednesday, October 26.  Sharon and I went to third-floor Jubilee, and sat outside an office waiting for our turn or maybe for Pearl.  To my consternation, Phil showed up there as well.  (Why did this sort of thing keep happening?)

He said hello.

Sharon said nothing.  I just looked away.

He said, “Okay.”  He hung around for a few minutes, and tried to say one or two things to me or Sharon, but I just kept quiet.  He even congratulated me on dating Charles!  (Seriously?)

Sharon went in one of the offices and Phil went through the door to the stairs, saying to me in a surprisingly non-sarcastic voice, “Good-bye.  Nice talking to you.”

I asked Sharon if I’d done the right thing in snubbing him.  She said maybe I should coldly say hi and bye–but that he was an idiot to try to keep talking to me when I clearly didn’t want him to.

Pearl said I gave him the treatment he deserved.  So it’s hard to say.  Anne of Green Gables would probably agree with Sharon, though.  🙂

I see from my diary at this time that I felt like these constant instances of running into him, were not coincidence.  On the sidewalks, at meals (he was a commuter, yet kept sitting with Persephone, who sat with my friends), coming out of the Campus Shop….

He had my work/school schedule from the beginning of the year, which I gave him before the breakup; was he watching for me, so he could pass by?

It seemed the more I wanted him to go away and leave me alone, the more he came near me.  It infuriated me.  I felt stalked.

****

Thursday, October 27.  My friends and I went on the Halloween tour through the woods that night.  There was a huge line by the Pavilion, but we finally got through it.

The Hall Council advertised that the tour would be scary and we’d learn all the legends of the haunted Roanoke woods.  Instead, it was funny at times, and had rusted cars and other debris here and there, but I don’t think the stories we heard were true.

It wasn’t scary.  It was a walk at night through the woods with a flashlight or two.

We saw Persephone in the line while we waited, and she grinned to see us.  She was friendly with me and I was friendly back, especially since last I knew she and Phil were broken up, but I still felt weird around her because of Phil.  It’s possible that, by then, they’d gotten back together and then broken up again.

Either before or after reading a CCM article about Brent Bourgeois, who’d grown up with Charlie Peacock, Pearl got his new debut CD, Come Join the Living World.

(Websites say the CD came out in January of 1995, but I could swear she had the CD before then, when I was still in deep depression.)

She also got one by a group called Pray For Rain.  I thought it was new, but it was copyrighted 1992.  (Not surprising, since my sources of Christian pop at school and at home were limited.)

I soon had three favorite songs from these CD’s: “Blessed be the Name” by Brent Bourgeois, and “My Time” and “Stay” by Pray For Rain.

Two were sad and fit my present situation without being unbearable, unlike many secular songs based on sad situations.  One was based on Job, and one was about a marriage in trouble.

“My Time” was about devotional time.  That one took me away from my situation.

They were also musically superior songs, with original, innovative tunes that I loved (love) to listen to over and over again.

Sharon said, the first time she heard the Bourgeois CD, “That sounds like something I’d listen to over and over.”  It had a calming effect on me, as did plenty of Christian music.

I’d been playing my Christian CD’s more than anything else, especially Shape of Grace by Out of the Grey.  Unlike romantic-love-soaked pop music, they took me away from my situation and reminded me of God’s love for me, that He doesn’t leave me alone, ever.

I didn’t want my music to remind me of the breakup.  Pop music would remind me constantly.

(By the way: Pray For Rain had to change their name because of a pre-existing group with that name.  Yet the secular group Mastodon has the same name as pre-existing Christian group Mastedon, yet never has to change its name?  What is up with that?)

****

Trina didn’t like to hear that Charles was dating me now.  One day he saw her through the Campus Center window (she was sitting in the lounge), and waved.

He left the window and re-joined me on the sidewalk, then said, “I really shouldn’t have done that.  You’re not supposed to rub it in your ex’s face when you start dating again.”

That made sense to me, especially now that Phil kept rubbing it in my face that he had a new girlfriend.

For example, even though none of us liked him except Persephone, he would sometimes sit with us at meals.  On November first, he even flirted with her while sitting right across from me.

I don’t think Charles did things like that to Trina.  I don’t think she sat at our table when he was around.  After a short while, she seemed to get over him and start looking around again.

Charles said Phil congratulated him on dating me, too–and right in front of Trina.  That’s weird: Congratulations are for engagements and weddings and the births of babies, NOT for dating somebody casually.

Those machines!  We only had one washer and one dryer for the whole building.  We didn’t have a lot of people using it, so this would be okay, except that our brand-new machines kept breaking down, and other halls were locked to non-residents.

The suites’ laundry room, last I knew, wasn’t locked, but that was all the way over on the other side of the campus.  The Phi-Delts heard a rumor that their sorority suite key cards would also open up all the other hall doors, but I didn’t have such a key card.

When we first got there, the washing machine would fill up with water, not drain properly, then the water would get all over the floor and soak your clothes, so water would stream out of them when you took them out of the machine.  I learned this the hard way, thinking it had been fixed.

Then they finally fixed that, but I think the dryer broke, or the washing machine again.  So I had to go over to Muehlmeier, but the only way to do that was to call up Persephone and ask her to open the back door for me.

It was a short walk, just to Muehlmeier in decent weather, down the hallway to the other end of the building, then downstairs to the laundry room in the basement.  But carrying a load of laundry made it harder to handle, and added to that was having to ask Persephone to help me.

By this time it must have been late in October.  We were friends, but for me it was a wary friendship, since she was seeing my ex-husband only a few weeks after our final separation.  I just didn’t understand how she could do this if she wanted to be my friend.

When I talked to her, it was hard to keep unwelcome images out of my head–her dating Phil, kissing him, talking with him, laughing, dancing, maybe even worse.  I didn’t know yet that she refused to go past kissing 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 shows my letter to his friends; I’m triggered by reminder of forced oral sex–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–October 1994, Part 6

October 12, 1994.  I went out to the woods for a time, to be alone with nature and to pray.  Nature can be soothing in times like these.

I asked God to show me the way to peace and rest.  I followed a dark path and found a dead end.  I followed a sunny path, and found the elusive river.

I thought God whispered to me, “Do you trust me?”–like Aladdin in the 1993 Disney cartoon.

Then I heard the Bradley Clock, and had to turn back.  I was supposed to meet Sharon before dinner.  I got lost for about 15 or 20 minutes, which was fun, but made me late.  Sharon left without me.

While walking back from the woods, I was startled to pass right by Phil on the sidewalk as he left Muehlmeier, where Persephone and Trina lived.

We crossed paths; he went to the Campus Center as I headed back to the apartments to get Sharon for dinner.

He said nothing to me, just walked past me, snubbing me, so I ignored and said nothing to him.

I was right by him, close enough to touch, and saw and recognized the letter–the envelope, the thickness were the same–in his hand.  He held nothing else.

I mentioned it to my friends at dinner and said I wondered if he’d shown my letter around.

Charles said, “He probably did show it to someone.  Except for my friend S– and myself, most guys are jerks.  They only think about themselves, and not about their girlfriends or wives.”

I was furious with Phil.  This letter had personal things in it (which I deleted here), and it was quite likely he’d shown it to other people, especially after I specifically asked him not to talk about it to anyone who wasn’t in a happy marriage (which, obviously, would be neither Persephone nor Trina, who weren’t married).

This apparent betrayal hurt me deeply.  I also couldn’t see why he would treat my letter as a personal offense.  I still don’t, when reading over the copy.

I didn’t think of it at the time, but considering how mad he looked when I saw him, it’s entirely possible that Persephone and Trina saw the letter, agreed that it was reasonable, and angered Phil by not agreeing with him.  Of course, this is merely speculation, but it comes from a re-reading which I just did of the letter.

****

Charles broke up with Trina only a few weeks after school started, and probably by early October.  It seems they met during Orientation Week and started dating before they met anyone else; now Charles said he no longer felt a “spark” for her.  He didn’t hate her or anything like that.

Trina went through a short time of not wanting to be at the same table in Bossard with him, leaving soon after he’d sit down, but I don’t think it was more than a few weeks.

Charles invited people to a party in his apartment in my building, where he lived with Dirk and Carl, but Pearl and I were the only ones who showed up.  We had a good time anyway, watching Field of Dreams (first time for me) and Loaded Weapon.  We had popcorn and pop, and Charles was a courteous host, happy to see us and spend time with us.  Dirk even came in at one point.

I just realized something: Charles lived in Muehlmeier.  I know this party was before I started dating him, and that he lived in Muehlmeier afterwards, so he must have started out in the apartments and then moved into his own room in Muehlmeier.

****

One evening at dinner, probably during the second full week of October, I sat at a table set apart from the other tables, taking orders for candygrams for an IV fundraiser.  I kept knocking on the table (some of my friends were around) and saying, like the Land Shark on a 70s episode of Saturday Night Live, “Candygram!  Candygram!”

Unfortunately,  the cafeteria served something different: various ethnic foods they’d never served before.

At first I thought this was great, a chance to try new things, but one of the foods was okra.  I tried it, but I could not stand it because it was all sticky and had the same consistency and taste as semen. 

Ugh!  I couldn’t stand this reminder of oral sex with Phil–especially after he forced me into it.  I went hungry because there wasn’t much else.

That night we put the candygrams together: suckers and lollypops with little messages, written and sometimes decorated by the people sending them.  They were written on little cut-outs of shapes like footballs, hearts and circles.

Sharon told me later, when I asked, that she saw the one that Persephone wrote to Phil.  It read “Keep the faith,” nothing ooey-gooey and “I love you”-like.

This relieved me, though I couldn’t figure out why Persephone would tell him the same thing he had recently told me.  It wasn’t as if he needed encouragement that we’d get back together.  He was the dumper, after all, and chasing Persephone!

Now that Phil was gone, and I knew I would be allowed to marry again without committing adultery because I was the abandoned party, I let my crush on Mike begin to grow.  Why ever not?

Sharon had a crush on him as well, but since neither of us had encouragement from Mike, and he had rejected her late junior year, it didn’t feel like a true rivalry.  It just meant somebody with whom to gush over him.

****

Friday, October 14.  At 2pm, I went to the Opening Ceremonies for the Great Lakes Writer’s Festival in the Bradley Building.  I stood up, as I’d done every year, when the Fessler Scholarship recipients were recognized.  Then we heard readings by Lucien Stryk and Sapphire, both poets.

Sapphire had been there before, but I missed her the first time.  I just wished they’d had a novel writer there again as in previous years: one poet, one novelist.  After all, I wrote and enjoyed some poetry, but my main love was novels and stories.

The weekend of the Writer’s Festival was also the weekend of Homecoming, so later on my friends and I saw the “Lighting of the R.”  The “R,” for Roanoke, was just a tiny piece of cardboard or metal with some lightbulbs on it that formed the shape of an “R.”

All the administration did was put it in the yard outside the Campus Center, in the same place we had the first picnic freshman year (where I met Shawn), and turn on the lights.  I remembered Sarah’s laughing comments the year before, saying she had just seen the “Lighting of the R.”  I now saw why she laughed.

It was strange, but whenever I sat with my friends at lunch or dinner and Charles was there, I’d be a little nervous and happy that he was there.  I’d hear him talk about asking girls out.

He once wanted to ask a girl out but was disappointed, because she had a boyfriend and was upset over a recent fight with him (meaning she was off-limits).  I would feel a little upset about this because I wanted him to notice me!

I wasn’t with Phil anymore, and Charles wasn’t with Trina anymore, so if I wanted to act on the strange attraction I felt for Charles, I could.  Before, when I was still with Phil and had just met Charles, I felt it and it was like forbidden fruit.  Now it wasn’t, but it was still enticing.  Maybe I felt it because he was a decent guy.

One weekend around this time, probably on a Saturday, I was doing laundry–whites–when Charles came over with his best friend S–, who was visiting him for the weekend.  The dryer got done and I had to go get my clothes and fold them, but I didn’t want to leave the conversation in the living room.

By the way, S– was cute and had two earrings.  He seemed like a nice guy with a good sense of humor.  He also had a girlfriend, but that didn’t matter to me because I liked Charles, anyway.

I sat in the living room folding towels while we all talked and laughed about things, and I think my laundry was the object of one good-natured joke.  I don’t remember if I folded my underwear in front of them, or if I excused myself and went into the bedroom for that.

I got the feeling that Charles liked me back, and that S– knew about it and was, well, checking me out.

We all had fun at Homecoming.  I never saw Phil at the festivities, so that helped a lot.

Friday night at 7:45 was the bonfire and pep rally, then the fireworks.  Just before Homecoming, Pearl went to the hospital for surgery related to her physical disabilities, so we were forced to go to it without her.

During the beautiful fireworks, loud rock songs played, such as the AC/DC song “Thunderstruck.”  The song seemed to fit well, and I went to another world, one with no Phil, just my friends and beauty and music.

Charles joined us there; I stayed near him as we stood and watched the fireworks.  Charles said, “I wish Pearl were here to see this,” and we all agreed.

After this, the new Homecoming Tent was opened up for us on the lawn outside the lower level doors of the Campus Center, so we could go in and dance.  It was a small tent, and I don’t know if many people went to the dance, or how many would have fit in it.  I went there with Mike and Charles.  I don’t remember where my other friends went.

Mike asked me to dance once, then started dancing like a muppet, but I didn’t dance.  This was outside the dance tent.  We didn’t like the music–rap, as usual–so we didn’t stay long.

We thought they should play alternative more, which people seemed to like, but it never got played.  Lots of people complained about the music that was always played at these dances.  When we were at the tent, we were the only ones there.  I don’t think I went inside.

Saturday night, after the Campus Cookout at 9pm, my friends and I (soon joined by Charles, to my glee) went into the tent not for a dance but for some entertainment.

There was this guy there, Hammerhead, doing magic tricks, but I thought he got a little too verbally lewd with the female student who went up on stage to assist him.

Then at ten was Pat McCurdy, who sang weird and funny songs.  At one point, he did a song in which everyone was supposed to put their hands to their cheeks and join in whenever he yelled, “Makes me nervous!”  It was his own song.  I really liked that one.

I especially liked when, before one song, he asked, “How many people here are in love tonight?”  People clapped.  Then he asked, “How many people here are in hate tonight?”  I clapped hard for that one, thinking of Phil, who was apparently nowhere around that night.  Persephone may have been there, though.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

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My letter to Phil, Part 2–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–October 1994, Part 5

 

First part of letter

Trust seemed to be a problem as well.  Up until I found out about the games you’d been playing with me, like you termed it I’d have trusted you until the ends of the earth; but for some reason, you seemed to have trouble trusting me.  I don’t know why that was.

Like you thought that someone could steal me away from you even after we married, even though I told you how firmly I believe in the bonds of marriage.  As the Bible, the Catholic church and the Nazarene church affirm, those bonds are not to be broken, and I was not going to break them.

It hurt me that you kept thinking the “perfect” person would steal me away or that you could never introduce me to your friend S–.  (Really, we’d probably have gotten along well, but I loved you, and I’m not into sadomasochism!)

As a song by the Christian group 77’s says, “If you’re looking for a perfect man that you can worship, baby, He ain’t on this earth, baby, no more.”  Couples can’t be clones of each other; they’ve got to be individuals.  Your old-fashioned, non-feminist (usually) [as he said he wanted] girl was not going to run away to find somebody better!

That bit about “being a better person when not with you”–that was taken straight from “Mrs. Doubtfire,” wasn’t it?  Well, I didn’t buy it then, and I don’t buy it now.  It’s not a biblically sanctioned reason for divorce.  If you don’t believe me, grab a concordance and a Bible and look up passages on the subject.

It also feels to the other person like they’re being blamed for how their partner acts.  The person isn’t the problem, it’s how their partner relates with them. They just need to learn how to relate better.

As that very movie shows, divorce tears families and people apart.  That’s why God hates it (Malachi 2:16 and surrounding verses; also see Matt. 5:31-32, Deut. 23:21-23; verses that may relate: Deut. 15:12-17).

(You may call me a holy roller, may even say I’m preaching, but if I know someone’s a Christian, I feel free to make references to what God says in the Bible.  Not spouting off verses right and left, but mentioning or quoting things that apply when it seems appropriate.

(Usually, people seem to appreciate it because it reminds them of how God feels about something they’re struggling with, gives them a better understanding of things.  If it convicts them of wrongdoing, they might not always like it so much, but that’s human nature.

(I don’t like to feel convicted of something wrong, either, but sometimes a person needs to hear it.  You even tell me Bible verses at times.)

You say the counseling idea is “like beating a dead horse.”  Well, I don’t agree.  It was never given a chance to revive the horse.

Three “dead horses”–couples that were already divorced–saw those tapes I mentioned, and were brought back to life: they remarried their ex’s.  According to Gary Smalley, good results because of the tapes have been reported without exception.

Love, happiness are increased; even the once-divorced couples report more affection for each other than they had even when they were first married.  This would certainly include a restoration of cherishing, which means “to care for kindly” and “to hold dear.”

Maybe this sort of thing could even help your parents restore their first love–in fact, probably could.  [His mother had told him the only reason she hadn’t divorced his dad was because Phil and Dave were still at home.]  And keep things from breaking down again, as long as the principles continue to be applied.

Once again, one person could feel their life had been wasted until they met the other person.  [Phil used to tell me that his life had been wasted until he met me.]  If I didn’t think this sort of thing had a fighting chance, I wouldn’t bother with it, wouldn’t bother even mentioning it.

One of the principles, one example of how to break the communications barrier, is one Smalley learned from his wife: When a woman says “Don’t touch me,” what she really means is, “Hold me, talk to me, make me feel better.”

This is true.  I can think of an instance in which you apparently didn’t know this, and it had consequences.  It was after that horrible argument we had near the beginning of the summer, when you were getting overwhelmed by that second sales job.

[This was when I thought he was talking in his sleep as he often did, but he just had his eyes closed.]  I finally got you to come upstairs and go to bed, my bed, but I was so angry and felt so betrayed that I said, “Don’t touch me.”

If I’d really meant that, I’d have told you to sleep in the guest room.  I wanted you to hold me, to try to talk things out, to be so worried about my attitude that you’d make me let you hold me.  Instead, you took me at my word, and turned over to go to sleep, leaving me feeling abandoned.

If you’d known what a woman really means when she tells her husband not to touch her, we could’ve resolved the problem better and more quickly.  It isn’t that she’s lying, it’s just that she’s upset.

Another thing is the “space” issue.  I see that as another example of poor communication.  I’m not always a good reader of body language; I go by what people say.

When you’d say you just needed some space, that it wasn’t me but you needed to sleep in the guest room that night, I wouldn’t like it, but I’d understand and sleep alone that night without complaint.

When you just disappeared and I found you in there, I’d feel like you were deliberately snubbing me or running from some argument.  I’d feel hurt, angry, abandoned.

To kindly say you need some time alone is much more effective than just getting mad or running off.  I’ve done that sort of thing myself before (to Clarissa), and it didn’t work, just made me feel ashamed because I knew I was probably doing something wrong.

We used to be able to resolve things [in the beginning of the relationship, we prided ourselves on being able to resolve things using already established principles that we hadn’t even heard of until afterwards]; I think we’ve forgotten how.

And I think if we learned how again, plus more tips that we never knew before, we’d see that “first love” returning, remember why we wanted to be together in the first place, why we wanted to be married and knew we were each other’s ideal.

But even if we didn’t, we could learn principles that can be applied in other relationships.  Either way, we’d both win.

We wouldn’t have to “get back together” before watching tapes or reading books or whatever; we could watch them, and then see if we’d want to give it another try or to just move on.

But there couldn’t be a “yo-yo effect” afterwards.  If we decide to try it again, then we’ll have to both give it a good try, not keep changing our minds when problems don’t go away right away.

Maybe there wouldn’t even be any left by then; maybe they all would’ve been taken care of through time and through learning how to communicate more effectively.  And I think God would be pleased by our efforts and bless us.

It seems we resolved things better until after we married. Perhaps what happened was, you unconsciously tried to make it into your parents’ relationship, which is familiar to you, and I unconsciously tried to make it into my parents’ relationship, which is familiar to me.

The two conflicted–unhappiness is incompatible with happiness, “light has no fellowship with darkness”–and everything broke down.

I hope you take this letter well, and in the kind spirit it was intended in.  I wanted to tell you about the tapes and other possibilities, and to tell you some things that I feel you should know.

I don’t know if you’ll listen to me, but I couldn’t trust that these things would be said to you by anyone else, as much as some others want to say them to you.  If some anger or bitterness still came through, well, I felt I needed to say what I did.  [Reading it over, I don’t really see any.]

But forgiveness is divine.  I don’t hate you.  If I can never even be friends with you, it would kill me.  I hope and pray you don’t turn into another Peter, because that would just finish me off, to see someone else I care for turn scuzzy.

But anyway.  If Mom can get ahold of these tapes or something like them, I plan to watch them.  But don’t tell me yet what you think of the idea, what you think of seeing them yourself.

Sometimes decisions made in haste are regretted later.  Give it maybe a couple weeks or more, let it sink in, mull it over and put it on the back burner; then decide.

Don’t listen to friends who don’t know what they’re talking about, which would probably be most of them–“The worst thing you can do,” Dad says, “is talk to your friends.”

[Dad’s advice used to be so influential with Phil.  He’d sit talking with him for hours–though Dad, at times, thought he was an idiot!]

Advice should be taken from the wise.  Pray about it, pray for guidance; God, the wisest of them all, hears the prayers of His children, and won’t leave them all alone.  That includes you.

Love,
Nyssa

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

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My letter to Phil, Part 1–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–October 1994, Part 4

October 8.  My parents, fearing I was the same way now as when Peter broke up with me, came up to see me.

I, of course, was surrounded by friends, unlike the first time when all my new friends and everyone in the suite had gone home for Winterim Break.  I forced myself to take it better and not go through the same crap I did when Peter broke up with me.

I was doing quite well.  Mom said I didn’t need them quite as much as she thought I would.

They took me to their hotel, where they gave me this cute, little, musical white bear, to cheer me up.  It had a diaper and a pillow, and its eyes were closed.  When you pressed the diaper, it played “Frére Jacques” and other children’s songs.

But it got accidentally pushed a lot, and then Sharon and I had to listen to “Baa Baa Black Sheep” or some other little ditty at times when we would rather not.

Other than this, my friends thought it was sweet of my parents to give me that, and cool to come up and see me during this difficult time.

Remember Pearl writing to me that I wasn’t invited to Florida over Winterim with them because of Phil?  Well, now with Phil out of the picture, I was invited.  Pearl’s parents were paying part of the way.  I talked to my parents about this now, but they didn’t have the money for me to go along.

On the morning of the 9th, I woke up to the sound of a TV infomercial for Gary Smalley tapes on how to save a marriage and/or make it better.  He said he’d even helped divorced couples get back together and build a stronger marriage than they had before.  (This is probably “Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships.“)

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to get the number to order the tapes.  But Mom and I wondered at this strange coincidence, that this infomercial would be on now when I could see it, and if Phil and I were meant to get these tapes and rebuild our relationship.

We thought so even more when, a few months later, I found the infomercial again while at school and got the number for her.

Now, however, I know it wasn’t because we were meant to rebuild our relationship.  Perhaps it was a chance given me by God to put this idea of using the tapes in front of Phil, and see if he would go for it.

Perhaps it was to show me that Phil wouldn’t do it and that he was not worth pursuing.

Perhaps it was just to show me I was right that relationships can work if you work hard enough on them, even if they are what Phil would call a “dead horse.”

Perhaps it was so I could tell Phil this and plant a seed or two in his heart which, if paid attention to, would show him counseling is sometimes necessary.

Perhaps it was so I would know that a relationship can be saved even when it seems hopeless.  I got some ideas about why women act certain ways and why men act certain ways.  I used them in a letter I wrote to Phil.

After one of the breakups with Phil and during one of our talks, I told Helene I might be interested in James (though by now I probably lost the big crush I used to have).  She said, “Hmm! We’ll have to see if he’s available.”  It was someone besides Phil to think about, at least.  There was also Mike, of course, but Phil said Mike wasn’t interested.

Sharon thought James was distant from women, and noted he hadn’t had a girlfriend the whole time he’d been at Roanoke.  (I think he was a fifth-year senior, because sophomore year I heard he was a junior.)  She laughed and said, “I think he’s gay!”

In the winter, I discovered that James hated Phil.  Was that because Phil kept taking away his potential dates?  First I asked James to a Pictionary party in the fall of 1993, then started dating Phil.  Second, Persephone sent James a letter expressing her feelings in the fall of 1994, then started dating Phil.

Finally, another girl, Brigitte, liked James by Winterim and tried to get his attention; fortunately, Phil never dated her. (James ended up marrying her.)

I wrote a letter to Phil.  I proofread it before sending it, prayed a lot, and worked on it for three days; I believe this included time to let it sit a day or two.  I feared to let Sharon see it, thinking she wouldn’t approve.  But she did find out about it, and said,

“You have a right to write a letter and tell him what you need to tell him, get things out into the open.”

This was the letter:

Dear Phil,

I hope you’ll be receptive to what I have to say here.  And I also hope you won’t talk to Dirk about it (I really don’t want him to see some of the things I’m about to say in here–they’re not for his eyes), but, if to anyone, to someone older, someone who’s happily and successfully married, preferably a strong Christian.  Someone who knows what they’re talking about.

This isn’t a “beg” letter.  This is a letter to tell you that you’ve hit upon the problem–miscommunication–and I’ve been shown a solution.  Circumstances came together just right so I could see the following: an infomercial for a series of video tapes by a respected Christian counselor who I’ve heard of before.

My mom is planning to get more information about them so she can get them herself, and I have a strong conviction that they’re just what’s needed here.  These tapes teach couples how to communicate with each other, how to deal with and drain anger, and other problems that come up in a marriage.

The source of miscommunication for a couple (at least, a heterosexual one!) is that men and women speak two different languages.  That doesn’t mean they aren’t compatible–certainly not, or else the species would not survive–it just means they need to learn how to break down the gender barriers.  Those tapes teach that.

And if Mom can’t get them, there are other things available–tapes, books, seminars.  James Dobson, one of the most respected Christian counselors for years now, has tapes and books both, for example.

Dirk’s wrong when he says a couple should be able to work things out without counseling.  Sometimes they can, but, as was said on a program I heard today, oftentimes they just keep trying the same things in different ways, and get nowhere.

The counselor can look at things objectively, and has a bigger “bag of tricks,” fresh approaches that actually will work.  The counselor can listen and see what the couple is doing wrong and who needs to do what.

He doesn’t have an agenda, nor does he need to be the one who’s right, so he can see things more clearly than either person involved.

Working a problem out oneself is often futile.  Usually what’s needed is prayer, advice from people who know what they’re talking about, talking to people involved, looking at what the Bible says, reading books–whatever’s necessary to help a person see things more clearly.

Oftentimes the only way to successfully work a problem out is to give it up to God so He can work it out, and show you what you need to do. This may be going to a counselor.  Or watching certain tapes or reading certain books.  Or just listening to what God will tell you.

The goal of such tapes is to promote happiness so we can enjoy life like God intends.  Gary Smalley, who made the tapes we saw advertised, was asked, “Isn’t it mostly the women who want to do this? Aren’t the men more resistant to counselors?”–you know, the macho-manly attitude of, “I don’t need anybody’s help”–and he said,

“Not many men, when asked if they want to be unhappy and miserable, say they do.”

Who does want to, really?  I know I don’t, and I know you don’t.  But if we don’t both learn how to communicate better, then it doesn’t matter who we each end up with; we’ll be unhappy.

I can look to my parents now for how to communicate and get a better idea of what I need to do, but you sure can’t look to yours for a good example.

As you know, mine don’t live on arguing, but it seems like yours do.  As much as a person tries to do things differently than his parents, they can still rub off on him.  (I’m not saying “him” to be gender-specific; it’s just clearer that way.)

You’ve admitted yourself to at least one thing you’ve picked up from your parents: being intolerant at times.  If you’re receptive and willing to hear, I could tell you one or two other things, too.

And if arguing is all you hear at home, how can you be expected to know how to form a peaceful household of your own?  The chain must be broken, or else you’ll quite possibly end up like your parents, and unhappy no matter who you’re with.

I know you don’t want that.  And I don’t want that for you.

My own parents even had problems, especially around the time I left for school freshman year. …But they learned to communicate better….

Despite our differences, you and I are a lot alike, you know.  If our situations had been switched, I might’ve ended up more like you are, and you more like I am.  I might’ve wanted to be a nun for seven years.

We’re both the youngest, both stubborn, both with slow (usually) but fierce tempers [though the slowness of his is now doubtful], both intelligent (the points we got on that IQ test were very close)…

[Mine were only less because of math questions I missed.  That thing was full of math questions, which aren’t my strength.  A year or two later, I took another one, and got around 150 points, almost genius level by its chart, and Cugan got around 130.  This one only gave me around 130, and Phil around 140]

…, both role-players (you in acting, me in writing now that I’m too old to play pretend) [I used to play pretend all the time, but now I had to content myself with writing], both averse to having to go out and get work (you said so yourself once), both intolerant at times.

We both have struggled with self-esteem, trying to raise it after being teased as children; and we’re also both interested in serving God.

(By the way, I’m told that God doesn’t send His children to “destroy” others who are also His children, so that dream was just a dream.  It’s not my “purpose.”)

Our “different worlds” [as he’d said we live in] usually overlap somewhere, including these areas, and what talents you have that I don’t, I admire.  Different personalities is a good thing, as long as there’s that common thread I’ve just mentioned.

But I am the oldest of us and the female; maybe one source of conflict is the natural difference in maturity level.  I don’t know if it’s a very big difference.  We both agreed to a spiritual marriage when we weren’t even sure if it was a good idea.  Morally binding, spiritually binding, but not legally binding.

I tell you one thing, I don’t want to agree to one with anybody else or a spiritual re-marriage with you unless it’s legal.  Both my family and the law should know about it and enforce the vows.

[That’s why such marriages are no longer legal, even though they were in the Middle Ages and even pioneer days, because there was no way to “prove” a ceremony had taken place.]

And no sex without a legal piece of paper, either.  I don’t want to fall for the world’s lies, which say God’s laws don’t apply to today and love is enough of a bond for people to know each other that well.

No, like we’ve both always believed, a couple has to be married or it’s a sin.  God has a better plan for us.  He’s not a “cosmic killjoy” [popular Evangelical term]; He invented the act, and He knows what all is involved–a joining of both body and soul, and all its emotional and physical consequences.

It was made for married couples, who can handle sharing each other’s spirit.  So don’t expect me to agree to your “offer” [sex without commitment], because we’re no longer married and must remain chaste if we want to obey God.

Letter to be continued.

 

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

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I return Phil’s things and he skewers me; consolation from friends–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–October 1994, Part 3

On October 2, I went to Immanuel Bible Church with Pearl, driven by a middle-aged (or older) man who went to the church.  We were to go there several times during the semester.

It was far too conservative for me, though I had no idea until reviewing the website just now, just how conservative it was.  I would have–metaphorically–run screaming if I’d known!

I wanted to go to the Evangelical Free church, but our driver had graduated.  So I went wherever I could, whenever I could–that is, until I got too used to sleeping in.

Once, possibly this first time we went, we passed Phil on the road as we left Roanoke.  He saw me, and I think he smiled at me.  I just sat there, stunned.

****

I started putting Dolphin Philosophy, complete with my usual drawing of a frolicking dolphin, on the message board we had by the bathroom door.  I wrote this on 10/2/94, which the dolphin Darwin said on SeaQuest DSV: “Darwin scared.  People bad!”

In a return to sophomore and junior year practices, I also started drawing little beetles on the board as well, every now and then.

Around this time, I’d look around at couples who’d been together a couple of years, and wonder, Will I ever have a lasting relationship, one that won’t fizzle out before the end of a year?

I’d look at people who were engaged or married and had been together for several years or more, and wonder, Will I ever last in a relationship long enough to get married and spend most of my life with a guy? 

We had Cinemax and HBO in the apartments.  But then at the general meeting for all the apartments, the meeting in which our Resident Assistant (RA) gave us cleaning supplies, somebody mentioned we were getting Cinemax and HBO.

The RA told us not to tell anybody from other residence halls, or they’d get jealous and complain.  Soon after, the cable guy hooked up our bedrooms so we could get cable outside of the living room.  (Without cable, not one channel came in on campus.)

We discovered that Cinemax and HBO were now scrambled.  We feared this would happen!

****

I found one of my small packing boxes.  I put in it the game “Crack the Case,” some mementos and pictures of Phil that he’d given me, and the porcelain bird.  (I kept very little.)

I was glad to include that game, which reminded me of him verbally abusing me and making me feel stupid whenever we played it.

I also put in the books and pencils he left behind that night he made the final decision to divorce me, and the bowl and spoon he left behind on the previous weekend.

I had cleaned them; I may have cleaned them before his final decision.  Otherwise, I probably would’ve been tempted to keep them dirty.

I put in a note that said simply, “These are some things of yours.  I can’t keep the bird anymore.”  I found our marriage contract, ripped it in two, and put it on the top.

I sent these to him through the campus mail.  I remember packing the box in the living room by the TV, and Sharon might have been there.

Sharon thought sending the bird back (and the ripped-up contract) was a good move that showed him I was breaking with him. 

He told me to keep the bird.  I’d been tempted, even encouraged by my friends, to break the porcelain bird, but a dream told me I’d regret doing this.  Instead, I gave it back to him, getting it off the living room shelf and out of my life forever.  It’s sad that that woman’s piece of art ended up meaning what it did to me.

Phil found me the next day, probably around the fifth, on my way back to the apartment after lunch.  He mentioned the “torn-up paper” and had a long talk with me.  He was civil, though he wasn’t kind.

He seemed offended by the torn-up marriage contract, even though he had been the one to nullify it.

He told me he was interested in doing something with Persephone.  He said he was going dancing on Saturday night in Fond du Lac–which we had planned to do together–and he was going to take her along instead.

I think he was going there with a group.

He also said, “It was never ‘us.'”  What a cruel thing to say!  And what was it supposed to mean?  To discount the past eight months, to discount our entire marriage,  like they meant nothing!

I don’t think I said much to that.  We also talked about how maybe in the future we’d be ready for each other, and I said I just wondered, how long?  (At the crack of doom, I guess.)  I came back in the apartment and cried.

I later got the impression that he and Persephone went dancing in Fond du Lac all the time.  It seemed like dancing in Fond du Lac was popular with S– young people.  It seems odd, because Fond du Lac kids talk like there’s nothing to do here.  And I believe the dance place where everybody went is now something else.

****

I traded a shift with Dirk, 9 to 11 pm in the library.  I sat folding Roanoke folders.  I kept one for myself because they were free.  Some guy dropped off these folders for us, just as he did the year before.

I liked them, but one of the librarians hated them.  She didn’t like how they were made, that they were unsolicited, and that since they were dropped off in the library, we student workers had to spend time folding them.  They were then left in a pile on the desk for anyone to take.

I liked mine, and later on in Winterim class, I decorated it with Celtic drawings and markers.  I ended up storing in it some papers I wanted to keep.  So she complained about them, but I loved mine.

Working at that time of night was scary, especially in what could be a haunted library.  And even if it wasn’t haunted, it was still scary to be out and about on the campus at night.

I was alert to shadows and bushes as I walked home, as I often would be that late at night, watching for guys who might want to jump me.  I didn’t use to be so jumpy at night on campus, until the rapist sophomore year put the fear of darkness into all us women without even stepping foot on the campus.

****

October 7-8.  I went to the InterVarsity Lock-in at Mike’s house.  It was held in the basement, which was made up into a rec room, and in one corner was the door to Mike’s bedroom.

It was nice to be there with my friends and not see Phil at all, but I was also depressed.  Persephone was there, and once asked me, “Is something wrong?”  I didn’t tell her it was Phil.

Guess what?  Phil dropped her off!  She apparently considered him weird, and just thought of him as a friend, but he insisted and she thought, Okay, whatever.

I tried to enjoy myself as best I could.  After all, many of my friends were there, and especially Mike.

While standing around the pool table eating and watching people play, Persephone’s roommate Trina said to me, “Right now, P is in his room having sex with a girl who Phil and I both think isn’t that pretty.”

This girl, apparently, was considered a slut, who all the guys (except Phil and, I hope, Mike) were hot over, and other girls didn’t understand why.  I didn’t know her, and didn’t know what she looked like, so I could say nothing about her.

As for P, a freshman, he had a girlfriend, but was known as a womanizer.  The girlfriend wasn’t on campus.  (Shortly before the end of the school year, according to Pearl, he said that his girlfriend taught him the value of a relationship without sex.)  In her absence, he slept with whomever he could find.

Spring Semester, Charles kept going on and on about him–P did this, P did that, P is so funny, P is so cool–so Pearl began saying, “I think Charles is in love with P.”  We’d laugh, especially since Charles was very much heterosexual.

We watched the Saved by the Bell movie which aired that evening, in which the blond kid married his girlfriend, the girl with the lovely, long brown hair (which she later cut off!  ergh!  when she went to 90210).

I didn’t watch the show myself, but some of my friends did.  I didn’t like watching someone get married, though, after my own marriage to Phil broke down before we even had a public wedding.  But I forced my feelings down so my friends could enjoy the movie.

We spent the night camped on sleeping bags, blankets and pillows on the floor in the basement.  Once I got up to go to the bathroom, stepped around my friends, and reflected on how life went on without Phil, that I was doing this apart from him and still having a good time.

Mike’s mother made us breakfast pizza the next morning.

****

We had made Mike an honorary woman and Phi-Delt because he hung around with us instead of guys, and acted “womanly” at times.  He loved the distinction.

Also, my friends and I recently went to Country Kitchen.  We were Tara, Pearl, Sharon, Astrid and me.  I don’t remember anyone else being with us.

I think that was the time I had a strange desire for the car to crash and I’d die (because of Phil), but I fought it off because that was so awful and would kill my friends as well.  I get thoughts like that when severely depressed.

There, we had ice cream desserts, and somebody asked who of us had crushes on Mike.  Astrid didn’t like admitting it, but we discovered or knew that she did or used to.  Sharon did or used to.  And I did.  Pearl thought Tara did, but she didn’t.

We wondered why so many of us liked him, because he was basically a dork (we meant that in the best possible way; we liked him the way he was).  We wondered if we didn’t have a big enough circle of guy friends, and that’s why we all kept falling for the same guy.

Of course, it could also be that he was one of few truly nice guys on that campus, not a drunk, druggie or out for all the booty he could get.

This may have been the time when a waitress kept banging drawers and snapping at us, so we thought she was having a nervous breakdown.

I don’t think it was anything we did or said.  Working at the S– Country Kitchen at night was said to be very stressful because of groups that come in and sit and have something to drink but nothing more, making the place very busy but with small tips.

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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