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:
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.
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)
Table of Contents
- Meet the Suite
- Meeting Shawn–and a Ninja
- Campus Stories, Wisconsin, Campus Radio Station
- Campus, People, First College Boyfriend
- Dating a Ninja
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
- Classmate a stand-in for “Rudy”; Jigging at College Dance
- Library Tales
- Happiness Returns
- Living with Friends in Krueger
- Funny Library Stories
- Shawn Calls
- Psycho Roommates and Bug Wars
- Return of Rick
- Adjusting to New Dorm
- Spitball-Throwing Teacher
- Rat-Obsessed Teacher and Doctor Zhivago
- A Teacher Dated a Student; InterVarsity Fun
- Charlie Peacock Concert
- Random Stories
- Letter to Shawn
- Erotic Vampire Dream (Inspiration for Alexander Boa)
- I Ask Out James
- Peter Calls!
- The Fateful First Meeting of Phil
- The Birth of Dolphin Philosophy
- Our Group of Friends Splits Apart
- Spring Classes
- Big Red Flag: Phil’s Dysfunctional Family Life
- The Drunken Stork (Phil’s Controlling Nature Manifests)
- Idealizing Phase and Early Sign of Control
- Phil Tries to Control my Friendships, Unfair Accusations from his Dad and Brother
- Phil Gaslights Me with Fake Dreams, Ridicule and Psychological Abuse
- Another Pre-Engagement
June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:
- The Abuse Worsens in the Summer of Hell
- Phil rapes me anally
- Phil tries to control me through refusing everything I want–even proper hygiene
- Phil’s cruel hoax on me: his “subconscious” coming out to be with me
- Phil’s “subconscious” explains why he’s coming out to talk to me
- The lies unravel as Phil admits to conning me; also, fright as my periods turn wacky
- How Phil’s behavior fit the signs of abuse
- Phil Mindscrews Me: changes history, blames me for things that were not my fault, treats me like an idiot during games
- Phil says if he abuses me, it takes two people to sign the divorce papers
- Pearl reveals that Phil is costing me social invitations
- Hints that Phil is checking out of the marriage
September 1994–Divorce: The Long, Dark, Painful Tunnel:
- Phil picks fights and avoids responsibilities to make me feel like a shrew
- My husband Phil, Dave and Pearl call me a party pooper for getting a Grade II concussion
- I’m ecstatic to be back with my friends (the ones Phil hates); I meet Charles
- Phil vanishes without a word of why
- Phil wants a divorce
- My friends tells me that Phil is controlling and possessive
- My first Pentecostal church service: They speak in tongues
- Phil refuses to accept responsibility for the divorce
- Phil cuts off contact
- Attack of Phil’s Flying Monkey and Sycophant: Dirk
- Phil the narcissist admits to manipulating people and using them as pawns in his game with me
- Phil comes crawling back to me–and we put our marriage on paper
- Phil demands my complete submission and forces me into oral sex–and my will is broken, for fear he’ll divorce me again
- Phil walks away from me again–because I dare to have my own mind, opinions and needs–and because he’s a sociopath
- Fierce anger against Phil and PTSD from the abuse
- My friends tell me Phil is psychotic
- “Soul Ties”
- I return Phil’s things and he skewers me; consolation from friends
- My letter to Phil
- Phil shows my letter to his friends; I’m triggered by reminder of forced oral sex
- I start dating Charles
- Friends tell me Phil is controlling
- I feel stalked by Phil
- Poem about being stalked by Phil
- Fury at Phil stalking me and rubbing my face in his new relationship
- A Date with the Vampire
- Celtic Class: Knotwork, Tin Whistles, SCA–and Drinking from a Skull
- The Teddy-O Incident; Birth of These Memoirs
- We Hook Up to the Internet–and Shawn Fixates on My Sex Life
- New Guy Begging at My Feet
- Life on TCB
- Meeting Cugan (Hubby)
- Learning my ex Peter was a love-fraud; New Men
- Before Tracy, There Was the Avenger (Sociopathic Female Bullies Pt 1)
- Torn between three men as Catherine pushes me toward Cugan
- The Love Rectangle
- Torn between FIVE men! Me?
- Persephone’s Own Outrageous Stories of Phil’s Abuse
- College-style living
- Online Shenanigans
- Phil Finds TCB; Meeting a Hit Man
- Gypsy’s Party: Healed friendship with Peter
- The Avenger Starts a Flame War (Sociopathic Female Bullies Pt 2)
- Meeting the elusive Speaker
- First Date with Future Hubby Cugan
- On Breaking Up with Kindness
- Loony Roommies and Flying Gargoyles
- The Goddess of Pleasure and Salt
- A Conversation with Oscar Wilde
- My First SCA Event
- Cugan: a vast improvement over Phil
- Easter with Cugan’s family and SCA
- Cugan breaks up with me
- After breakup: Phil’s return and trolls
- Cugan comes back
- SCA hippies; college senioritis: anxiety!
- Or should I move back in with my parents?
- Peace with Phil
- Defending my Thesis; Graduating with Honors
- Graduation: Trapped at school
- Epilogue and Apology from Phil