Category: seeing abuser

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:

 

 

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:

 

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:

Friends tell me Phil is controlling–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–October 1994, Part 8

When we went to school events, Charles put his arm around me and I didn’t mind, but I feared other guys would see this as a sign that I was “off-limits.”  I wasn’t: We were both allowed to date anybody else we wanted.

That’s what we meant by not being serious, by taking it slowly, by being, as Charles told Pearl, “very casual.”  And I wanted to date at least two other guys at the time, including Mike.

Helene and her best friend Kay became my friends junior year through Phil, who liked to sit with them at lunch.  They met in Sophomore Honors and liked him then, but now they were my friends as well, and Helene didn’t like him so much.

Helene said, “Phil has been talking to Kay.  I think he sees her as a sister.”  That might explain why she got quiet when I said Phil was a jerk.  What truth twisting did he tell her?

Helene said Catherine told her Phil and Persephone were dating.  Helene’s thoughts:

“It shows he misses you….You shine compared to her….It confirms my worst fears about him.  I really think little of a person who–like a person who gets a divorce and then goes out and finds someone else right away.  They don’t want to work on the relationship they have, and they go out and find another one?…He’s going to regret it.” 

(Pearl said that Persephone’s going to regret it–which turned out to be true, a year later.)  I said Phil didn’t want a feminist; Helene noted that Persephone was extremely feminist.

Helene also said, “Last year, after you two got engaged, Phil came to us [her and Kay] once and said you had an argument but worked it out.  But he complained that you wouldn’t just do whatever he wanted.  We saw this as controlling, and hoped you would realize this before you married him.”

I remembered that argument.  It was over whether or not I could listen to a rock station in the minivan, one which only came in outside the campus and played better songs than any other station.  Remember, this was in the Stone Ages when college kids couldn’t just hook up to campus Internet and pull in a webstream whenever they wanted.

I found the following paragraphs in The Psychology of Romantic Love by Nathaniel Branden:

Imagine that an individual feels, perhaps beneath the level of conscious awareness, that he or she significantly lacks worth, is not lovable, is not a person who can inspire devotion for any sustained length of time.

Simultaneously, this individual desires love, pursues love, hopes and dreams to find love.

Let us suppose this person is a man.  He finds a woman he cares for, she seems to care for him, they are happy, excited, and stimulated in each other’s presence–and for a time it seems that his dream is to be fulfilled.

But deep in his psyche a time bomb is ticking away–the belief that he is inherently unlovable.

This time bomb provokes him to destroy his relationship.  He may do this in any number of ways.  He may endlessly demand reassurance.  He may become excessively possessive and jealous.

He may behave cruelly to ‘test’ the depth of her devotion to him. [Phil once told me this was why things had gotten so bad.  It’s in my diary.]

He may make self-deprecating comments and wait for her to correct him. [Phil did this all the time.]

He may tell her he does not deserve her and tell her again and again and again.  [Yep.]

He may tell her that no woman can be trusted and that all women are fickle.  [He refused to let me meet his “vampire friend S–,” with the fear that I’d fall for S–.  And he didn’t believe me when I said I would never leave him even if I found a “soul mate.”]

He may find endless excuses to criticize her, to reject her before she can reject him.  He may attempt to control and manipulate her by making her feel guilty, thereby hoping to bind her to him.  He may become silent, withdrawn, preoccupied, throwing up barriers she cannot penetrate.  [This whole paragraph sounds like Phil over the course of our relationship.]

After a while, perhaps, she has had enough; she is exhausted; he has worn her out.  She leaves him.

He feels desolate, depressed, crushed, devastated.  It is wonderful.  He has been proven right.  The world is the way he always knew it was.  ‘They’re writing songs of love, but not for me.’  But how satisfying it is to know that one understands the nature of reality!

Suppose that, despite his best efforts, he cannot drive her away.  Perhaps she believes in him, sees his potential.  [That was me.]

Or perhaps she has a masochistic streak that requires that she be involved with such a man.  She clings to him; she keeps reassuring him.  Her devotion grows stronger, no matter what he does.

She simply does not understand the nature of the universe as he perceives it.  She does not grasp that no one can love him.

In continuing to love him, she presents him with a problem: She confounds his view of reality.  He needs a solution.  He needs a way out.

He finds it.  He decides that he has fallen out of love with her.  Or he tells himself that she bores him.  Or he tells himself that he is now in love with someone else.  Or he tells himself that love does not interest him.

The particular choice does not matter; the net effect is the same: in the end, he is alone again–the way he always ‘knew’ he would be.

Then, once more, he can dream of finding love–he can look for a new woman–so that he can play out the drama all over again.

It is not essential, of course, that his relationship end so conclusively.  A literal separation may not be necessary.  He may be willing to allow a relationship to continue, providing both he and his partner are unhappy.  This is a compromise he can live with.  It is as good as being alone and abandoned–almost. –p. 128-129

(According to the author website, this book is now out of print, but you can find it at the above Amazon link.)

Around this time, I saw Phil with his head on Persephone’s shoulder in the cafeteria.  It made me sick.  I was glad to have Charles around.

Charles and I were taking things very slow and casual, while Phil just seemed to jump from one serious relationship to another.  The bed wasn’t even cold before he started dating her!

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:

 

 

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: