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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Saving your letters is not one bit “creepy”: one of the ways I got gaslighted

One of the many things Richard told me to gaslight me, was that it was somehow “creepy” that I save letters I receive, and copy letters I write.  He even had his wife help him with this gaslighting, sat me down and the two of them told me how creepy and weird it was.  I describe this here.

I now recognize this as part of a campaign to make me think they were perfectly normal and I was crazy, to keep me from seeing his narcissism and her abuse and realizing how he’d been manipulating me and using me all along.

This is something narcissists and abusers do to you, to get you to stop complaining about bad treatment and start seeing yourself as the problem, while they change nothing and apologize for nothing.

Even if you know in your heart that you’re doing nothing wrong or weird, just by being your trusted friend, a narcissist can plant one of these “mind bombs” in your head to get your brain thinking subconsciously,

“What if he’s right?  What if I am a creepy clingy stalker type?”  (Just because you like to save old letters and keep a diary?  Oh pleeeaaase!)

I’ve been going through my old college diaries, letters, and the memoirs I wrote right after graduation, in order to update my online college memoirs.  Tonight I found that on June 19, 1994, I wrote in a letter to a friend,

My dad has an old copier now, and it makes letter-writing so much quicker.  I used to write a letter, then hand-write or type up a copy for myself.  Now I just take a few minutes to copy it.

It’s so odd to not have to pay a dime a copy [like at school], and bad copies aren’t such a problem when you don’t have much money to make more.

In “Clarissa” by Samuel Richardson, Clarissa and Lovelace are always copying letters or having their servants do it.  Then they sometimes copy other people’s letters so their friends can read them.  How they would have appreciated having copiers!

I started copying letters around the same time I started writing them: in the mid-80s, my early teens, to my pen pal in Luxembourg.  If I didn’t do that, my Mammoth Cave account would have been lost, never turned into this post.

So…Apparently I’ve been “creepy” for some 28 years….

I believe I wanted to record what I wrote to this stranger in a foreign country.  As I signed up for more pen pals in other countries, I also saved the letters I wrote them, as well as the ones they wrote me.  I had a different folder for each pen pal, with “to” on one side and “from” on the other.

Those folders are still in my fireproof vaults, along with letters written and received from my college friends all through college, and nearly all e-mails exchanged after we graduated, from then up until the present day.

(I recently began archiving e-mails on my computer instead, to save space, and I back up my e-mails periodically on a portable backup drive called My Book.)

There were some letters I didn’t copy here and there, but I later regretted this, because I would have loved to have that written account of everything that happened when my parents took me to college for the first time.

I wrote a church friend about the spires in Milwaukee, but I don’t have a clue what else, and now it’s lost to my memory.  The letters I did keep, have allowed me to write accurate college memoirs full of detail, making the scenes far more vivid than, “Well, we did this, then this, but I’m not sure what else.”

This is also why I’m confident that my story about Richard and Tracy is accurate, because I have this record of our interactions, not just e-mails and letters exchanged with them, but e-mails I wrote my mother, college friends and husband during those years.

When Richard accused me of somehow being “creepy” for saving letters people send me, and copying letters I send others–and when Tracy made fun of me for it like some mean girl in junior high–I knew this was absolutely frickin’ ridiculous.  I wrote to my college friends about it as well, to find out their thoughts.

They were all in favor of me doing whatever I dang well please with my letters.  They didn’t think it was one bit creepy, and one even questioned why on earth Richard would say such a thing.  Another said he didn’t save letters (except from his wife), but only because he didn’t have the room to store them all.

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if saving letters like this, is a “writer” trait.  Writers journal; we write diaries; we save odds and ends; we want to remember so we can write about it later, or just to remember.  Some of us save for posterity, historians and/or biographers.

A lady brought in her journals to Writer’s Club last night, full of playbills, photographs, written accounts, even movie ticket stubs (I do that, too).  And that’s what I’m doing: saving it to write about it later.  Or to save the letters dear friends have written me, because they are dear friends.  Or simply to remember.

In fact, the first time I ever heard of people just chucking old letters, was when Richard told me it was creepy to save them!  I thought everybody saved their letters, simply because those are your friends writing you, they took the time to write you, and the letters are worth saving because of who they came from.

I also wanted to remember what I wrote to people, as a diary, so I saved those as well.

I call it all part of my journal; the letters and e-mails are saved with other mementoes, neatly organized in date order in file folders, many of which are stored in fireproof vaults.

These are all valuable memories which otherwise would be lost as my brain jettisons things over the years.  Even old letters, mementoes and pictures from my exes are still preserved.

(Anyone who gets jealous over their mates saving such things, I think they’re absolutely ridiculous.  I do not save these because of pining over my exes: I lost all romantic interest in these guys 20 years ago!  I save them for the same reason I save all my other letters: as a diary, reminders of something that was important to me once.  No one has any business telling their mates what to do with old letters from exes long gone!  That’s wanting to control your mate, even their memories!)

I don’t write diaries like I used to, because it’s much easier to save letters and e-mails: They cover many of the events of my life and what I think about them.  Also, nowadays I use this website as a diary/journal.

Come to think of it, my ex-friend-with-benefits Shawn, who used and psychologically abused me back in college, objected to, even scolded me for, keeping a diary about the things he would do with me:

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

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

His objection also came from his time in the mental hospital, though I won’t explain how; I had no such experience.  He asked if I worried about anybody finding it; no, I did not.  If they did, they’d realize I wasn’t as innocent as people thought, and I didn’t mind that. —March 1993, “Shawn Rips Me Apart for NVLD Traits”

Shawn is the only person I’ve ever encountered who thought a diary was somehow a bad thing.

I’m convinced that anyone who objects to someone else keeping a diary or old letters, is afraid of discovery, that they are abusing that person and don’t want it known.

Also, if you keep records of your interactions with such a person, then you can one day have that “ah-HAH!” moment that means the narc/abuser has now lost all control over you–and that you have proof for others to see, as well.

Yet writers have always been hyper-aware their correspondence might have enduring literary merit. Hunter S. Thompson, for one, made carbon copies of many of his letters…..

One writer who systematically saves his e-mail is Nicholson Baker, whose book ”Double Fold” was a cri de coeur about what is lost when libraries convert newspapers and other rare materials to microfilm.

”I regret deleting things afterward, even sometimes spam,” Baker said. ”I’ve saved almost everything, incoming and outgoing, since 1993, except for a thousand or so messages that went away after a shipping company dropped my computer.

“That amounts to over two gigabytes of correspondence — I know because my old version of Outlook froze when I passed the two gigabyte barrier. When software changes, I convert the old mail into the new format. It’s the only functioning filing system I have.”

Salman Rushdie is also a saver. ”Yes, I have saved my e-mails, written and received since the mid-90’s when I started using computers regularly, and yes, I suppose any archive deal would include these (pretty extensive) e-mail files,” Rushdie said.

”I e-mail a lot, so there’s all sorts of stuff there, but don’t ask me to remember what it is. Private correspondence, texts, business mail, jokes, everything.”

Rushdie said he had backed up a lot of his correspondence on an external hard drive, where he had also transferred messages from old computers. –Rachel Donadio, Literary Letters, Lost in Cyberspace

The comments to this blog post are full of reasons why old letters and journals should not be destroyed, for sentimental reasons and for posterity:

  1. Regret over letters which were destroyed to de-clutter.
  2. Destroying letters and journals is sacrilege.
  3. Letters and journals are not clutter even if you have a lot of them (not a bit like old clothes or broken lamps).
  4. Regret over the destruction of letters between one’s parents.

Also see here and here and here. Look at the joy it brings so many people to save these things!  And the historical or sentimental value to much of it!

During my late forties, I began making copies of the letters I sent to my many epistolary friends. I typed those I’d written in longhand before mailing them, and made carbon copies or photocopies of those composed on the typewriter.

By that time the absence of such a record had on a number of occasions been a cause of my dismay, puzzlement, or keen regret.

It happens that I had become a devotée of the forth-and-back call-and-response pulsations of corresponding with souls of widely different temperaments, interests and points of view.

Each of them brought out another side of me: what was sacred to one might be anathema to another; what enthralled one was less than fascinating to the next; what entertained one, another found was not at all amusing.

When the spirit was upon me, I penned or typed long letters to my friends-in-writing in response to theirs. Because each of these epistolary friendships was sui generis, I suppose it was inevitable that I would eventually begin saving both sides of each correspondence.

I had learned well that a good habit for indefatigable letter writers to cultivate is to review what was written to whom, and when, lest one weary or wound or offend through a slip of the pen….

The passion to preserve my own papers, strewn with the seeds of every living thing I have read or written, was born of the desire to honor the covenant between the generations. Who has not dreamed the impossible dream of imperishability of all we have loved well? –Audrey Borenstein, Saving Words: Old Letters and Journals

So go ahead, save your old letters and diaries.  And if anyone tells you it’s wrong, tell them it’s your life and you’ll do what you want!

Those memories will become more precious to you over time, as the ones in your head begin to fade.  And your descendants may find them precious as well.

Also, use my story to help you be on guard against narcissistic mindscrews.

Also see More support for keeping diaries and saving letters/e-mails.

 

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

School Scandal

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

****

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

Shawn Rips Me Apart for NVLD Traits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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